A Stroke of Bad Luck

Publication/Presentation Date




Unusual case of adrenal masses in a normotensive patient

Clinical case

A 37 year old female, no significant medical history, presented with sudden onset of right sided weakness and dysarthria. On presentation she was normotensive but exhibited expressive aphasia and complete right hemiplegia. Initial CT Head demonstrated a dense left MCA infarct with no hemorrhage. Echo was normal. Abdominal Ultra sonogram and CT revealed large bilateral cystic and solid adrenal masses, right measured 22x12.5x11cm, weighing 2058g and left measured 16x11.5x7.7cm, weighing 672g; highly suspicious for neoplastic disease. A repeat CT head showed increasing edema and brainstem herniation which necessitated emergent decompressive frontotemporoparietal craniectomy and durotomy.

24-hour urine studies were metanephrine 130,896 µg (35-460 µg), normetanephrine 25,938 µg (110-1050 µg) and vanillylmandelic acid 127.2 mg (1.8-6.7 mg). TSH and serum calcitonin were normal. MEN2 screening for RET proto-oncogene mutation was negative. Hypercoagulable work up was negative. Patient was pretreated with phenoxybenzamine and had exploratory laparotomy and bilateral adrenalectomy. Pathology and immunohistochemical staining confirmed the diagnosis of bilateral benign pheochromocytomas. Patient was discharged with daily hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone. 24-hour urinary fractionated metanephrines measured 2 weeks post-surgery were normal.

The triad of episodic headache, sweating and tachycardia is infrequent; pheochromocytomas may present as paroxysmal hypertension, acute pulmonary edema, myocardial infarction or stroke. Plasma metanephrines were normal though urinary metanephrines were elevated. Patient was not on medication that might alter catecholamine metabolism.


Manifestations of catecholamine hypersecretion are common. Though adrenal masses were found incidentally in our patient, pheochromocytoma should be considered in young patients presenting with acute stroke.


Presentation Number: SAT-72


Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Internal Medicine


Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine Faculty

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