Cardiovascular dysfunction and catecholamine cardiomyopathy in pheochromocytoma patients and their reversal following surgical cure: Results of a prospective case-control study

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Cardiovascular (CV) dysfunction and cardiomyopathy can cause perioperative morbidity in pheochromocytoma patients, but have not been studied systematically. This prospective, case-control study evaluated nature and extent of CV dysfunctions and their reversal following curative pheochromocytoma surgery.


Thirty-five pheochromocytoma patients, 9 normotensive nonpheochromocytoma adrenal tumors and 10 essential hypertensives were evaluated with 2-dimensional echocardiography, tissue Doppler, and serum N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (s-NTpro-BNP, a sensitive myocardial damage biomarker) serially before and after treatment.


Pheochromocytoma patients had systolic and diastolic dysfunction, reduced left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (EF), increased LV end-diastolic and systolic dimensions and volumes, myocardial performance index, and decreased transmitral early/late velocity ratio, which were worse compared with controls. All indices improved significantly with α-blockade and after pheochromocytoma resection, and normalized over 3-6 months. Tissue Doppler early velocity was lower (P = .04) and s-NT-proBNP higher (P = .0001) in pheochromocytoma patients compared with controls. Seven pheochromocytoma patients (20%) had significant LV dysfunction (LVEF <45%; s-NTpro-BNP levels >500 pg/mL) and had more marked postoperative improvement.


Global LV diastolic and systolic dysfunctions specific to pheochromocytoma are common and improve early postoperatively, with sustained improvement upon follow-up. Detailed cardiac evaluation with echocardiography, tissue Doppler, and s-NTpro-BNP may help to reduce perioperative morbidity and monitor recovery in pheochromocytoma patients.

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