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1.  Measurement of fractionated plasma metanephrines for exclusion of pheochromocytoma: Can specificity be improved by adjustment for age? 
Background
Biochemical testing for pheochromocytoma by measurement of fractionated plasma metanephrines is limited by false positive rates of up to 18% in people without known genetic predisposition to the disease. The plasma normetanephrine fraction is responsible for most false positives and plasma normetanephrine increases with age. The objective of this study was to determine if we could improve the specificity of fractionated plasma measurements, by statistically adjusting for age.
Methods
An age-adjusted metanephrine score was derived using logistic regression from 343 subjects (including 33 people with pheochromocytoma) who underwent fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements as part of investigations for suspected pheochromocytoma at Mayo Clinic Rochester (derivation set). The performance of the age-adjusted score was validated in a dataset of 158 subjects (including patients 23 with pheochromocytoma) that underwent measurements of fractionated plasma metanephrines at Mayo Clinic the following year (validation dataset). None of the participants in the validation dataset had known genetic predisposition to pheochromocytoma.
Results
The sensitivity of the age-adjusted metanephrine score was the same as that of traditional interpretation of fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements, yielding a sensitivity of 100% (23/23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 85.7%, 100%). However, the false positive rate with traditional interpretation of fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements was 16.3% (22/135, 95% CI, 11.0%, 23.4%) and that of the age-adjusted score was significantly lower at 3.0% (4/135, 95% CI, 1.2%, 7.4%) (p < 0.001 using McNemar's test).
Conclusion
An adjustment for age in the interpretation of results of fractionated plasma metanephrines may significantly decrease false positives when using this test to exclude sporadic pheochromocytoma. Such improvements in false positive rate may result in savings of expenditures related to confirmatory imaging.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-5-1
PMCID: PMC553971  PMID: 15737232
2.  A systematic review of the literature examining the diagnostic efficacy of measurement of fractionated plasma free metanephrines in the biochemical diagnosis of pheochromocytoma 
Background
Fractionated plasma metanephrine measurements are commonly used in biochemical testing in search of pheochromocytoma.
Methods
We aimed to critically appraise the diagnostic efficacy of fractionated plasma free metanephrine measurements in detecting pheochromocytoma. Nine electronic databases, meeting abstracts, and the Science Citation Index were searched and supplemented with previously unpublished data. Methodologic and reporting quality was independently assessed by two endocrinologists using a checklist developed by the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Studies Accuracy Group and data were independently abstracted.
Results
Limitations in methodologic quality were noted in all studies. In all subjects (including those with genetic predisposition): the sensitivities for detection of pheochromocytoma were 96%–100% (95% CI ranged from 82% to 100%), whereas the specificities were 85%–100% (95% CI ranged from 78% to 100%). Statistical heterogeneity was noted upon pooling positive likelihood ratios when those with predisposition to disease were included (p < 0.001). However, upon pooling the positive or negative likelihood ratios for patients with sporadic pheochromocytoma (n = 191) or those at risk for sporadic pheochromocytoma (n = 718), no statistical heterogeneity was noted (p = 0.4). For sporadic subjects, the pooled positive likelihood ratio was 5.77 (95% CI = 4.90, 6.81) and the pooled negative likelihood ratio was 0.02 (95% CI = 0.01, 0.07).
Conclusion
Negative plasma fractionated free metanephrine measurements are effective in ruling out pheochromocytoma. However, a positive test result only moderately increases suspicion of disease, particularly when screening for sporadic pheochromocytoma.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-4-2
PMCID: PMC459231  PMID: 15225350

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