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      Acute Watery Diarrhea as the Initial Presenting Feature of a Pheochromocytoma in an 84-Year-Old Female Patient

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          Abstract

          We report the case of an 84-year-old woman who was initially admitted to the emergency room of our institution for frank dehydration caused by acute and severe secretory diarrheas along with acidosis and hypokalemia. After extensive gastrointestinal investigations, the etiology of the diarrhea remained unclear. Because clinical symptoms and ionogram parameters worsened, despite intravenous fluids and electrolyte replacement, an abdominal CT scan was performed and unexpectedly revealed a 4.5-cm mass in the right adrenal gland. Several separate 24-hour urine catecholamines were shown to be highly elevated. The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma was confirmed by MIBG scintigraphy and MRI. Before the admission, the patient never experienced symptoms suggestive of pheochromocytoma, except dry mouth and fear of impending death on several occasions. After 2 weeks, the diarrhea stopped abruptly and spontaneously without specific medication but after adequate rehydration. The patient subsequently underwent surgical removal of the adrenal medullary mass. Postoperatively, urinary catecholamines returned to normal values. Immunohistochemical study of the tumor confirmed the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma and revealed the presence of VIP-positive cells organized as islets in scattered areas of the tissue. This case illustrates the protean mode of presentation of pheochromocytoma, as well as the ability of medullary neural crest-derived cells to produce various neuropeptides potentially responsible for a large variety of symptoms.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          HRE
          Horm Res Paediatr
          10.1159/issn.1663-2818
          Hormone Research in Paediatrics
          S. Karger AG
          1663-2818
          1663-2826
          1999
          August 1999
          03 February 2000
          : 52
          : 2
          : 101-106
          Affiliations
          aUnit of Pathology, bDepartment of Surgery, cUnit of Anesthesiology, and dDepartment of Internal Medicine, CHR-St Joseph Medical Center, Mons, Belgium
          Article
          23443 Horm Res 1999;52:101–106
          10.1159/000023443
          10681641
          © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

          Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

          Page count
          Figures: 6, Tables: 1, References: 21, Pages: 6
          Categories
          Case Report

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