ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 16 P299

Adrenal ganglioneuroma: a new cause of increased serum calcitonin

Theodosia Bakola, Anastasios Gkountouvas, Anastasia Aggelopoulou, Athanasia Tertipi, Anastasios Pappas, Ioanna Iakovidou, Athanasios Nisiotis & Philippos Kaldrimidis


Metaxa Memorial Hospital, Piraeus, Greece.


Introduction: Ganglioneuromas are rare, benign tumors of mature ganglion cells, arising from the sympathetic ganglia and 20% are located in the adrenal medulla, representing 1–4% of adrenal incidentalomas. About 1/3 secrete catecholamines but hypertension and other adrenergic symptoms are rare. About 60% are depicted with 131I- MIBG.

Case report: A 72-year-old man was admitted for a left adrenal tumor 9×8 cm, incidentally found in abdominal CT scan for investigation of haematuria. The patient was normotensive and diabetic type II. Basic and dynamic tests for cortisol and aldosterone hypersecretion were normal, 24 h urinary normetanephrine (2070 μg (105–354)), norepinephrine (422 μg (20–100)) and dopamine (425 μg (80–350)) were elevated (normetanephrine was 7 times the upper normal limit). Urinary epinephrine and metanephrine were normal. 131I- MIBG whole body scan showed an intense uptake by the mass. Serum CgA was increased (334 ng/ml (<98)). Serum calcitonin (121 pg/ml (<15)) was increased without ultrasound apparent thyroid nodules. The tumor was diagnosed as a pheochromocytoma and a left adrenalectomy was performed with no perioperative complications. Histology revealed a gaglioneuroma with mature ganglion cells and abundant Schwann cells. Immunohistochemical staining for calcitonin was positive. Six months postoperatively, urinary catecholamines and normetanephrines were normal, abdominal CT scan showed a normal right adrenal, 131I- MIBG scan was negative and serum CgA decreased to almost normal levels (102 ng/ml). Calcitonin also decreased to normal (4.6 pg/ml).

Conclusion: Untill now only pheochromocytomas and composite pheochromocytomas – tumors containig both chromafine and ganglion cells – are reported to secrete calcitonin. To our knowledge this is the first reported ganglioneuroma secreting calcitonin.

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