The diagnostic efficacy of urinary fractionated metanephrines measured by tandem mass spectrometry in detection of pheochromocytoma

C. G. Perry, A. M. Sawka, R. Singh, L. Thabane, J. Bajnarek, W. F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: There are limitations to currently available biochemical tests for pheochromocytoma. Our objective was to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of a novel tandem mass spectrometry assay for the measurement of fractionated urinary metanephrines in patients suspected to have a pheochromocytoma. We also developed clinically based cut-offs for positivity of this measurement. Methods: We examined the medical records of 506 patients (including 102 patients with a catecholamine-producing tumour) who underwent measurement of 24-h urinary fractionated metanephrines using tandem mass spectrometry as well as adrenal imaging at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. The cut-offs for positivity were defined as follows: total metanephrines (sum of the metanephrine fractions) 5163 nmol/day, normetanephrine fraction 4001 nmol/day, metanephrine fraction 1531 nmol/day. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed. Results: The diagnostic efficacy was as follows: normetanephrine fraction sensitivity 87.3% [(95% confidence interval (CI) 79.4-92.4%], specificity 95.0% (92.5-96.8); metanephrine fraction sensitivity 56.9% (47.2-66.1), specificity 95.0% (92.5-96.8); elevation of either normetanephrine or metanephrine fraction sensitivity 97.1% (91.7-99.0) and specificity 91.1% (87.9-93.5). Areas under the ROC curves (AUCs) were 0.972 (95% CI 0.955-0.990) for the normetanephrine fraction, 0.800 (0.741-0.858) for the metanephrine fraction, 0.991 (0.985-0.996) for total metanephrines, and 0.991 (0.985-0.996) for a regression-derived ROC curve incorporating both the metanephrine and normetanephrine fractions. Conclusion: Measurement of 24-h urinary fractionated metanephrines by a tandem mass spectrometry assay appears to be an effective biochemical technique in the investigation of pheochromocytoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-708
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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