The diagnostic efficacy of urinary fractionated metanephrines measured by tandem mass spectrometry in detection of pheochromocytoma
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BACKGROUND: There are limitations to currently available biochemical tests for pheochromocytoma. Our objective was to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of a novel tandem mass spectrometry assay for the measurement of fractionated urinary metanephrines in patients suspected to have a pheochromocytoma. We also developed clinically based cut-offs for positivity of this measurement. METHODS: We examined the medical records of 506 patients (including 102 patients with a catecholamine-producing tumour) who underwent measurement of 24-h urinary fractionated metanephrines using tandem mass spectrometry as well as adrenal imaging at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. The cut-offs for positivity were defined as follows: total metanephrines (sum of the metanephrine fractions) 5163 nmol/day, normetanephrine fraction 4001 nmol/day, metanephrine fraction 1531 nmol/day. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed. RESULTS: The diagnostic efficacy was as follows: normetanephrine fraction sensitivity 87.3% [(95% confidence interval (CI) 79.4-92.4%], specificity 95.0% (92.5-96.8); metanephrine fraction sensitivity 56.9% (47.2-66.1), specificity 95.0% (92.5-96.8); elevation of either normetanephrine or metanephrine fraction sensitivity 97.1% (91.7-99.0) and specificity 91.1% (87.9-93.5). Areas under the ROC curves (AUCs) were 0.972 (95% CI 0.955-0.990) for the normetanephrine fraction, 0.800 (0.741-0.858) for the metanephrine fraction, 0.991 (0.985-0.996) for total metanephrines, and 0.991 (0.985-0.996) for a regression-derived ROC curve incorporating both the metanephrine and normetanephrine fractions. CONCLUSION: Measurement of 24-h urinary fractionated metanephrines by a tandem mass spectrometry assay appears to be an effective biochemical technique in the investigation of pheochromocytoma.
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