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Imaging Features of Succinate Dehydrogenase-deficient Pheochromocytoma-Paraganglioma Syndromes

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Samuel Joseph Withey, Stephen Perrio, Dimitra Christodoulou, Louise Izatt, Paul Carroll, Anand Velusamy, Rupert Obholzer, Valerie Lewington, Audrey Eleanor Therese Jacques

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-1410
Number of pages18
JournalRadiographics : a review publication of the Radiological Society of North America, Inc
Issue number5
Published1 Sep 2019

King's Authors


Pheochromocytoma (PC) and paraganglioma (PGL) are rare neuroendocrine tumors that occur throughout the body from the base of the skull to the pelvis. Sympathetic catecholamine-secreting tumors may be associated with hyperadrenergic symptoms and long-term morbidity if they are untreated. Typically biochemically silent, head and neck PGLs may result in cranial nerve palsies and symptoms due to localized mass effect. Tumors can arise sporadically or as part of an inheritable PC-PGL syndrome. Up to 40% of tumors are recognized to be associated with germline mutations in an increasing array of susceptibility genes, including those that appear to arise sporadically. Most commonly, up to 25% of all PC-PGLs are associated with mutations in one of the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme subunit genes. The resulting familial PC-PGL syndrome varies according to the affected enzyme subunit (most commonly SDHB and SDHD mutations) with respect to tumor prevalence, location, age of onset, and risk of malignancy. Patients with SDH enzyme mutations have increased lifetime risk of developing multifocal tumors and malignancy. Early recognition of individuals at high risk, genetic testing, screening of family members, and lifelong surveillance programs are recommended, but not without health, economic, and psychologic implications. Anatomic and functional imaging is key to diagnosis, staging, treatment planning, and lifelong surveillance of these individuals. Radiologists must be aware of the imaging appearance of these varied tumors.

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