My life for pheochromocytoma

    1. Hartmut P H Neumann
    1. Unit for Preventive Medicine, Department of Nephrology and General Medicine, Albert‐Ludwigs‐University of Freiburg, Hugstetter Street 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to H P H Neumann; Email: hartmut.neumann{at}


    A fascination with hereditary tumor diseases, especially Von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) disease and pheochromocytoma, has dominated my academic life for three decades (Table 1, Fig. 1). My background was the warm and rich atmosphere created by my parents Colonel Joachim Neumann and Mechtild Zuckschwerdt, PhD, MA, descendent of an industrial family from Magdeburg. Together with three sisters and a brother, I spent my youth in Brunswick, Hamburg, and Bonn with a classical education including Latin and Greek. I served 2 years in the artillery of the German army. From 1969 to 1974, I studied medicine at the Universities of Bonn and Heidelberg.

    View this table:
    Table 1

    Von Hippel–Lindau disease: major manifestations and clinical classification

    Figure 1

    Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (arrows in A–E). (A) Bilateral adrenal tumors in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2. Image: courtesy Martin K Walz, Huyssens Hospital, Essen, MD. (B) Extra-adrenal retroperitoneal pheochromocytoma, CT. This giant tumor was endoscopically resected in 8.5 h by Martin Walz, Essen, by a bilateral retroperitoneal access with minimal scars. After dissection, the tumor was in situ cut into pieces and removed. Image: courtesy Schu-Ren Yang, MD, University Medical Center, Freiburg. (C) Paravesical pheochromocytoma (paraganglioma) with postural catecholamine attacks, resected endoscopically by Martin Walz. Image: courtesy Schu-Ren Yang, MD, University Medical Center, Freiburg. (D) Thoracic left-sided pheochromocytoma (paraganglioma), resected endoscopically after intubation of the right lung and collapse of the left lung. Image: courtesy Schu-Ren Yang, MD, University Medical Center, Freiburg. (E) Scars after conventional (right) and endoscopic (left) surgery for pheochromocytoma.

    After examination, I felt unprepared for a university career. I started in internal medicine in a country hospital, but decided after some months to move into pathology in the large city hospital of Ludwigshafen/Rhein, the city of the BASF company. The 5-year training programme of 500 autopsies, 20 000 biopsies and operation specimens, dominated by the cultured personality of …

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