Context: The initial diagnosis of pheochromocytoma relies on plasma fractionated metanephrines levels. Normal levels exclude pheochromocytoma, but positive tests have a low positive predictive value due to the disease's rarity. Objectives: The objective of the study was to evaluate three approaches to distinguish between true-positive and false-positive tests: 1) increased cutoff for plasma fractionated metanephrines, 2) measurement of serum/plasma chromogranin A (CGA), and 3) urine fractionated metanephrine testing. Design: We studied retrospectively all Mayo Clinic patients with positive plasma fractionated metanephrine tests over a 15-month period and determined their final diagnosis based on histology, imaging, additional biochemical tests, and more than 1 yr follow-up. For a subgroup, urine fractionated metanephrine results were available. All original plasma samples were retested for CGA. Results: Of 140 patients, 40 had a chromaffin tumor confirmed and 100 excluded, indicating a positive predictive value of plasma fractionated metanephrines of 28.6%. Increasing the threshold for a positive test improved specificity to 98% but missed eight cases (20%). Incorporation of urine fractionated metanephrine testing as follow-up test achieved 80% specificity and 91% sensitivity. The corresponding figures for CGA were 71 and 87% for all patients and 89 and 87% when patients taking proton pump inhibitors were excluded. Conclusions: Unless plasma fractionated metanephrines levels are elevated more than 4-fold above the upper limit of normal, patients with a positive plasma fractionated metanephrines test should be evaluated with urine fractionated metanephrines and serum/plasma CGA assays before being subjected to imaging or invasive diagnostic tests.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical