A Comparison of Biochemical Tests for Pheochromocytoma: Measurement of Fractionated Plasma Metanephrines Compared with the Combination of 24-Hour Urinary Metanephrines and Catecholamines
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We compared the diagnostic efficacy of fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements to measurements of 24-h urinary total metanephrines and catecholamines in outpatients tested for pheochromocytoma at Mayo Clinic Rochester from January 1, 1999, until November 27, 2000. Catecholaminesecreting tumors were histologically proven. The sensitivity of fractionated plasma metanephrines was 97% (30 of 31 patients), compared with a sensitivity of 90% (28 of 31) for urinary total metanephrines and catecholamines (P = 0.63). The specificity of fractionated plasma metanephrines was 85% (221 of 261), compared with 98% (257 of 261; P < 0.001) for urinary measurements. The likelihood ratios for positive tests were 6.3 (95% confidence interval, 4.7 to 8.5) for fractionated plasma metanephrines and 58.9 (95% confidence interval, 22.1 to 156.9) for urinary total metanephrines and catecholamines. An adrenal pheochromocytoma was missed by urinary testing in two patients with familial syndromes and one asymptomatic patient with an incidentally discovered adrenal mass. An extra-adrenal paraganglioma was missed by plasma testing in one patient. In conclusion, measurements of 24-h urinary total metanephrines and catecholamines yield fewer false-positive results, an attribute preferred for testing low-risk patients, but fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements may be preferred in high-risk patients with familial endocrine syndromes.
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