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Monday 12 November 2007

Ectopic ACTH syndrome caused by pheochromocytoma: Computed tomography-guided percutaneous ethanol injection as an alternative treatment.

By: Danilovic DL, Brandão Neto RA, D'Abronzo H, Menezes MR, Lucon AM, Mendonca BB.

J Endocrinol Invest 2007 Oct;30(9):780-6

Ectopic ACTH secretion represents 8- 18% of the cases of endogenous hypercortisolism. Pheochromocytomas correspond to 2-25% of the cases and surgery is the indicated treatment. We describe a case of ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma treated with percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) guided by computed tomography (CT). A 71-yr-old man presented with diabetes, severe hypokalemia, weight loss, muscle weakness, and hypertension. Hormonal evaluation revealed elevated levels of urinary cortisol, ACTH, catecholamines, and urinary metanephrines. There was no cortisol or ACTH response to desmopressin stimulation test. Magnetic resonance revealed bilateral adrenal nodules, larger on the left side. The suspected diagnosis was ectopic ACTH syndrome caused by pheochromocytoma. Ketoconazole treatment resulted in reduction of urinary cortisol levels but was followed by severe cholestasis and hepatic dysfunction, preventing surgery; it was substituted by octreotide with reduction of ACTH and cortisol levels, but without improvement of cholestasis. The patient presented cachexia and developed multiple pulmonary abscesses that also prevented surgical treatment, thus he was treated with percutaneous ethanol injection guided by CT of the left adrenal tumor. During the procedure, the patient had an increase in blood pressure controlled by the infusion of sodium nitroprusside followed by hypotension that required infusion of dopamine and volume expansion. Afterwards, he presented hormonal normalization, normal catecholamines levels, and clinical improvement. Histological tissue analysis confirmed pheochromocytoma. We concluded that CT-guided PEI represents an efficient alternative therapy to ectopic ACTH-secreting pheochromocytomas in patients without clinical conditions for surgery.

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