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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb 01

Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep


Pseudo-pheochromocytoma due to obstructive sleep apnea: a case report.


Jazdarehee A, Huget-Penner S, Pawlowska M
Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep. 2022 Feb 01; 2022.
PMID: 35212265.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition of intermittent nocturnal upper airway obstruction. OSA increases sympathetic drive which may result in clinical and biochemical features suggestive of pheochromocytoma. We present the case of a 65-year-old male with a 2.9-cm left adrenal incidentaloma on CT, hypertension, symptoms of headache, anxiety and diaphoresis, and persistently elevated 24-h urine norepinephrine (initially 818 nmol/day (89-470)) and normetanephrine (initially 11.2 µmol/day (0.6-2.7)). He was started on prazosin and underwent left adrenalectomy. Pathology revealed an adrenal corticoadenoma with no evidence of pheochromocytoma. Over the next 2 years, urine norepinephrine and normetanephrine remained significantly elevated with no MIBG avid disease. Years later, he was diagnosed with severe OSA and treated with continuous positive airway pressure. Urine testing done once OSA was well controlled revealed complete normalization of urine norepinephrine and normetanephrine with substantial symptom improvement. It was concluded that the patient never had a pheochromocytoma but rather an adrenal adenoma with biochemistry and symptoms suggestive of pheochromocytoma due to untreated severe OSA. Pseudo-pheochromocytoma is a rare presentation of OSA and should be considered on the differential of elevated urine catecholamines and metanephrines in the right clinical setting.