Issue: 2006 > September > original article

Preoperative pharmacological management of phaeochromocytoma

A.N.A. van der Horst-Schrivers, M.N. Kerstens, B.H.R. Wolffenbuttel


Phaeochromocytoma is a rare catecholamine-secreting
neuroendocrine tumour with a high cardiovascular
morbidity and mortality if left untreated. Surgical resection is the only curative therapy. During surgery there is a high risk of massive release of catecholamines, which can result in potentially fatal hypertensive crises and cardiac arrhythmias. Administration of vasoactive drugs such as (non)selective α- and β-antagonists and calcium
channel blocking agents have reduced the operation risk.
Guidelines for the preoperative medical management of
the patient with a phaeochromocytoma are mainly based
on retrospective studies and case reports. We reviewed the relevant literature on this subject. In addition, we compared the several preoperative treatment protocols of the eight university medical centres in the Netherlands.