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What is a pheochromocytoma?

A pheochromocytoma is a tumor on the adrenal gland that secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones.

  • Epinephrine and norepinphrine are responsible for regulating heart rate and blood pressure, among other functions.
  • Pheochromocytomas occur most frequently in young to middle-aged adults.
  • Ten percent of people affected are children, who usually develop symptoms between the ages of 6 and 14.

At Boston Children's Hospital, pheochromocytomas are treated through the Division of Endocrinology — a multidisciplinary program that provides comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and management for patients with disorders of the adrenal gland and other parts of the body associated with the endocrine system.

Pheochromocytomas | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of pheochromocytomas?

The most common symptom seen with a pheochromocytoma is high blood pressure, which is sometimes extreme. While each child may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common include:

What causes pheochromocytomas?

In most cases, both genetic and environmental factors play a role. The condition can be seen on its own or in combination with other disorders. The most common disorders associated with pheochromocytomas are:

Pheochromocytomas | Diagnosis & Treatments

How do doctors diagnose a pheochromocytoma?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, some of the diagnostic procedures your child’s doctor may request include:

How are pheochromocytomas treated?

Treatment for a pheochromocytoma usually includes removing the tumor.

  • Before removing the tumor, your child's physician may prescribe medications to control high blood pressure.
  • Your child may have multiple tumors, and in order to be thorough, we will conduct an extensive evaluation to locate them before surgery.

Continuous medical follow-up may be required to monitor the development of future tumors.

Pheochromocytomas | Programs & Services