Since 1960 we have diagnosed phaeochromocytoma (paraganglioma) in 10 children. The cases include a 15 year old girl who over a three year period presented with multiple paragangliomata and an associated malignant carotid body tumour. All children were hypertensive, eight of 10 presenting with severe headaches. Diagnosis was based on finding a raised urinary vanillylmandelic acid excretion and plasma noradrenaline concentration. In addition six of eight children were hypercalcaemic with raised plasma calcitonin concentrations; plasma parathyroid hormone concentrations were high in two of seven and four out of eight children had raised plasma renin activities on presentation. No child, however, was found to have a multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome. Despite the introduction of newer techniques for the detection of catecholamine producing tumours we found that selective arteriography and venous catecholamine sampling were superior for tumour localisation compared with ultrasound scanning, computed tomography, and metaiodo-benzyl-guanidine (MIBG) scanning.
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