Background. The recurrence rate of pheochromocytoma after adrenalectomy is 6.5-16.5%. This study aims to identify predictors of recurrence and optimal biochemical testing and imaging for detecting the recurrence of pheochromocytoma. Methods. In this retrospective study we reviewed all patients who underwent adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma during a 14-year period at a single institution. Results. One hundred thirty-five patients had adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma. Eight patients (6%) developed recurrent disease. The median time from initial operation to diagnosis of recurrence was 35 months. On multivariate analysis, tumor size >5 cm was an independent predictor of recurrence. One patient with recurrence died, 4 had stable disease, 2 had progression of disease, and 1 was cured. Recurrence was diagnosed by increases in plasma and/or urinary metanephrines and positive imaging in 6 patients (75%), and by positive imaging and normal biochemical levels in 2 patients (25%). Conclusion. Patients with large tumors (>5 cm) should be followed vigilantly for recurrence. Because 25% of patients with recurrence had normal biochemical levels, we recommend routine imaging and testing of plasma or urinary metanephrines for prompt diagnosis of recurrence.
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