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Times of India
10 June 2010
Pune, India

A nine–year–old boy from Barshi in Solapur district was successfully operated upon by doctors at the Sassoon hospital for pheochromocytoma –a tumour of the adrenal gland, which are orangecoloured glands on the top of the kidneys. Secretions from this tumour are harmful as they shoot up the blood pressure to such an extent that regular medicines to control such a condition become ineffective.

“The condition of pheochromocytoma becomes more problematic when it occurs to small children. Operations in such cases are extremely difficult to perform,” said Arun Jamkar, dean, Sassoon hospital. If untreated, the condition can be life–threatening, and can cause stroke, or damage to the kidneys, brain, or the heart, he added.

The primary function of the adrenal gland is to produce essential hormones which are required to carry out a number of metabolic activities. Hence, a tumour of the adrenal gland producing too much of the hormones can cause high blood pressure and a number of other symptoms. It is potentially a very dangerous tumour. The condition is seen in one in one lakh patients, said Sharad Agarkhedkar, president of the city chapter of Indian Medical Association.

“The boy from Solapur had severe headache and giddiness, all typical symptoms of high blood pressure. Initially, he was diagnosed with meningitis –inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord –and was under observation in an ICU of a local private hospital. His condition became serious,following which he was shifted to Sassoon hospital in January,” Jamkar said.

The doctors at Sassoon investigated the case thoroughly and found a large tumour near the left kidney of the patient. An immediate decision was taken to perform a laparoscopic surgery, a key hole surgery, which is less invasive than traditional open surgery.

“Considering the age of the patient, it was a difficult task. The surgery lasted for three hours,” said Jamkar. After three months, the boy was discharged, he added.

Fact Sheet
What is pheochromocytoma?
Pheochromocytomas are rare tumours most often found in the middle of the adrenal gland. They have been reported in babies as young as five days old as well as adults 92 years old. Although they can be found at any time during life, they usually occur in adults between 30 and 40 years of age. pheochromocytomas are somewhat more common in women than in men

What causes the condition?
The cause of most pheochromocytomas is not known. Inherited pheochromocytomas are associated with four separate syndromes

What are the symptoms?
Most people with pheochromocytoma have hypertension, or high blood pressure. The other symptoms of the disease are extremely variable

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