Cancer Home > Diagnosing Pheochromocytoma

When making a pheochromocytoma diagnosis, a doctor may perform a physical exam and ask about a patient's personal and family medical history. Tests that may be used include blood and urine tests, CT scans, MRIs, and nuclear medicine scans.

An Introduction to Diagnosing Pheochromocytoma

If a person has possible symptoms of pheochromocytoma, the doctor may do a physical exam and ask about the patient's personal and family medical history. In many cases, the process of making a pheochromocytoma diagnosis will also involve additional tests or procedures.

Physical Exam and History

During the physical exam, the doctor will feel for any lumps or bumps. A history of the patient's health habits, family history of any medical conditions, and past illnesses will also be taken and reviewed.

Exams and Tests

Exams and tests that may help in making a pheochromocytoma diagnosis may include the following:
  • Blood and urine tests
  • CT scans
  • MRIs
  • Nuclear medicine scans (MIBG scans).
Blood and Urine Tests
Urine tests look for extra catecholamines (including adrenaline or its breakdown products) in the urine. Blood tests look for extra hormones in the blood.
CT Scan (CAT Scan)
A CT scan is a procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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