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Curr Hypertens Rep. 2002 Jun;4(3):250-5.

Choice of biochemical test for diagnosis of pheochromocytoma: validation of plasma metanephrines.

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  • 1Building 10, Room 6N252, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1620, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1620, USA.


Pheochromocytomas, although a rare cause of hypertension, are dangerous tumors that require consideration among large numbers of patients. The subsequent low prevalence of the tumor among those tested and inadequacies of commonly used biochemical tests make excluding or confirming the tumor an often difficult and time consuming task. Recognition that catecholamines are metabolized to free metanephrines within pheochromocytoma tumor cells, and that this process is independent of catecholamine release, provides a rationale for use of these metabolites in the biochemical diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. Measurements of plasma concentrations of free metanephrines thereby promise more reliable and efficient diagnosis of pheochromocytoma than offered by conventional biochemical tests.

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