Research Article

Biochemical tests for diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma: urinary versus plasma determinations.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 14 March 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:853
  1. P F Plouin,
  2. J M Duclos,
  3. J Menard,
  4. E Comoy,
  5. C Bohuon,
  6. J M Alexandre


    Fifteen patients with hypertension due to phaeochromocytoma and 35 controls with essential hypertension were studied to assess the diagnostic value of urinary and plasma biochemical determinations in phaeochromocytoma. In every case of phaeochromocytoma the urinary concentration of vanillylmandelate, metanephrines, or adrenaline plus noradrenaline was diagnostic of the disease irrespective of whether the patient was normotensive or hypertensive at the time. Plasma determinations of adrenaline and noradrenaline, however, gave falsely negative results on three occasions. These findings suggest that urinary biochemical determinations--particularly of metanephrines--are more reliable than plasma catecholamine measurements as a test for phaeochromocytoma. The test is particularly useful in patients with intermittent hypertension.