The aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic efficacy of free metanephrines in plasma samples drawn in the seated position compared with 24-h urinary metanephrines in detecting pheochromocytomas in Asian patients. This prospective study was conducted at Samsung Medical Center between May 2010 and July 2011. The study contained 245 subjects, including 28 patients with histologically-proven pheochromocytoma, 44 with histologically-proven non-pheochromocytoma, 112 controls suspected of having tumors but with negative investigations during two or more years of follow-up, and 45 healthy normotensive volunteers. Plasma-free metanephrines were measured by LC-MS/MS. The cut-off values with optimal sensitivity and specificity for plasma metanephrine and plasma normetanephrine were 0.33 nmol/L and 0.61 nmol/L, respectively. Both the plasma metanephrines measurement and urinary metanephrines measurement had a sensitivity of 96.4% (p = 1.00). However, the urinary metanephrines measurement was significantly more specific than the plasma metanephrines measurement (94.2% vs. 75.6%; p < 0.001). When we applied cut-off values based on BMI, specificity improved from 75.6% to 87.2%, with a comparable gain in sensitivity. From a diagnostic perspective, measurement of free metanephrines in plasma drawn in the seated position is highly sensitive but insufficiently specific when compared with measurement of 24-h urinary fractionated metanephrines. The specificity may be improved by applying cut-off values based on BMI. We suggest that free metanephrines in plasma drawn from seated position can also be used as an initial screening test to ensure that pheochromocytomas are not missed in Asian patients.
The Japan Endocrine Society