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Open access

Lorena Arnez and Victor Lawrence

Summary

A 40-year-old woman was hospitalised at 25-week gestation following a diagnosis of severe symptomatic hypercalcaemia (adjusted serum calcium 3.02 mmol/L). A diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP) was made on the basis of elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) 11.2 pmol/L (reference range 1.5–6.9) and exclusion of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia. Ultrasound examination of the neck did not convincingly demonstrate an abnormal or enlarged parathyroid gland and parathyroid scintigraphy was not performed due to maternal choice relating to perceived radiation risk to the foetus. At neck exploration during the 28th week of pregnancy a right lower pole parathyroid lesion was excised together with two abnormal lymph nodes (largest 1.6 cm). Histology confirmed a parathyroid adenoma and also papillary thyroid carcinoma deposits in the two resected lymph nodes. Post-operatively, levels of adjusted serum calcium normalised and pregnancy progressed uneventfully to term. Total thyroidectomy was performed 2 weeks after delivery revealing two small foci of papillary micro-carcinoma (largest 2.3 mm, one in each thyroid lobe) with no evidence of further metastatic tumour in lymph nodes removed during functional neck dissection. Radioiodine remnant ablation (RRA) was performed 2 months post thyroidectomy to allow for breast involution. The patient remains in full clinical and biochemical remission 9 years later. We present and review the difficult management decisions faced in relation to the investigation and treatment of PHP in pregnancy, further complicated by incidentally discovered locally metastatic pT1aN1aM0 papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Learning points:

  • PHP may have serious consequences during pregnancy and usually requires surgical management during pregnancy to reduce the risk of maternal and foetal complications. The indications for and optimal timing of surgical management are discussed.

  • Localisation by parathyroid scintigraphy is controversial during pregnancy: modified dose regimes may be considered in preference as an alternative to unguided neck exploration.

  • Breastfeeding is contraindicated for 6–8 weeks before radioactive-iodine remnant ablation (RRA) to prevent increased breast uptake. Breastfeeding is further contra-indicated until after a subsequent pregnancy.

  • Incidentally discovered differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) in cervical lymph nodes in some cases may be managed expectantly because in one quarter of thyroidectomies the primary tumour remains occult.

Open access

Florence Gunawan, Elizabeth George, and Mark Kotowicz

Summary

Denosumab is a fully human MAB that acts as a potent anti-resorptive by inhibiting activation of osteoclasts by inhibiting the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) ligand. Hypocalcaemia has been reported as one of the serious adverse sequelae of use of denosumab. We present a case of refractory hypocalcaemia following administration of a single dose of denosumab in a patient with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. The patient’s serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations and renal function were normal prior to denosumab administration. Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level was however elevated pre-morbidly consistent with known bone metastases. The patient was treated with high-dose oral and IV calcium without any appreciable response in serum calcium. During his 30-day hospital admission, he demonstrated disease progression with development of new liver metastases and bone marrow involvement. Normocalcaemia was not achieved despite 1 month of aggressive therapy. Given the patient was asymptomatic and prognosis guarded, he was eventually discharged for ongoing supportive care under the palliative care team.

Learning points:

  • Denosumab is a potent anti-resorptive therapy and hypocalcaemia is one of the known adverse effects.

  • Serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations must be replete prior to administration of denosumab to reduce the risk of hypocalcaemia.

  • Denosumab has been proven to be more effective than zoledronic acid in preventing skeletal-related adverse effects in patients with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

Open access

Andrew R Tang, Laura E Hinz, Aneal Khan, and Gregory A Kline

Summary

Hereditary hypophosphatemic rickets with hypercalciuria (HHRH) is a rare, autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the SLC34A3 gene that encodes the renal sodium-dependent phosphate cotransporter 2c (NaPi-IIc). It may present as intermittent mild hypercalcemia which may attract initial diagnostic attention but appreciation of concomitant hypophosphatemia is critical for consideration of the necessary diagnostic approach. A 21-year-old woman was assessed by adult endocrinology for low bone mass. She initially presented age two with short stature, nephrocalcinosis and mild intermittent hypercalcemia with hypercalciuria. She had no evidence of medullary sponge kidney or Fanconi syndrome and no bone deformities, pain or fractures. She had recurrent episodes of nephrolithiasis. In childhood, she was treated with hydrochlorothiazide to reduce urinary calcium. Upon review of prior investigations, she had persistent hypophosphatemia with phosphaturia, low PTH and a high-normal calcitriol. A diagnosis of HHRH was suspected and genetic testing confirmed a homozygous c.1483G>A (p.G495R) missense mutation of the SLC34A3 gene. She was started on oral phosphate replacement which normalized her serum phosphate, serum calcium and urine calcium levels over the subsequent 5 years. HHRH is an autosomal recessive condition that causes decreased renal reabsorption of phosphate, leading to hyperphosphaturia, hypophosphatemia and PTH-independent hypercalcemia due to the physiologic increase in calcitriol which also promotes hypercalciuria. Classically, patients present in childhood with bone pain, vitamin D-independent rickets and growth delay. This case of a SLC34A3 mutation illustrates the importance of investigating chronic hypophosphatemia even in the presence of other more common electrolyte abnormalities.

Learning points:

  • Hypophosphatemia is an important diagnostic clue that should not be ignored, even in the face of more common electrolyte disorders.

  • HHRH is a cause of PTH-independent hypophosphatemia that may also show hypercalcemia.

  • HHRH is a cause of hypophosphatemic nephrocalcinosis that should not be treated with calcitriol, unlike other congenital phosphate wasting syndromes.

  • Some congenital phosphate wasting disorders may not present until adolescence or early adulthood.

Open access

Peter Novodvorsky, Ziad Hussein, Muhammad Fahad Arshad, Ahmed Iqbal, Malee Fernando, Alia Munir, and Sabapathy P Balasubramanian

Summary

Spontaneous remission of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) due to necrosis and haemorrhage of parathyroid adenoma, the so-called ‘parathyroid auto-infarction’ is a very rare, but previously described phenomenon. Patients usually undergo parathyroidectomy or remain under close clinical and biochemical surveillance. We report two cases of parathyroid auto-infarction diagnosed in the same tertiary centre; one managed surgically and the other conservatively up to the present time. Case #1 was a 51-year old man with PHPT (adjusted (adj.) calcium: 3.11 mmol/L (reference range (RR): 2.20–2.60 mmol/L), parathyroid hormone (PTH) 26.9 pmol/L (RR: 1.6–6.9 pmol/L) and urine calcium excretion consistent with PHPT) referred for parathyroidectomy. Repeat biochemistry 4 weeks later at the surgical clinic showed normal adj. calcium (2.43 mmol/L) and reduced PTH. Serial ultrasound imaging demonstrated reduction in size of the parathyroid lesion from 33 to 17 mm. Twenty months later, following recurrence of hypercalcaemia, he underwent neck exploration and resection of an enlarged right inferior parathyroid gland. Histology revealed increased fibrosis and haemosiderin deposits in the parathyroid lesion in keeping with auto-infarction. Case #2 was a 54-year-old lady admitted with severe hypercalcaemia (adj. calcium: 4.58 mmol/L, PTH 51.6 pmol/L (RR: 1.6–6.9 pmol/L)) and severe vitamin D deficiency. She was treated with intravenous fluids and pamidronate and 8 days later developed symptomatic hypocalcaemia (1.88 mmol/L) with dramatic decrease of PTH (17.6 pmol/L). MRI of the neck showed a 44 mm large cystic parathyroid lesion. To date, (18 months later), she has remained normocalcaemic.

Learning points:

  • Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is characterised by excess parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion arising mostly from one or more autonomously functioning parathyroid adenomas (up to 85%), diffuse parathyroid hyperplasia (<15%) and in 1–2% of cases from parathyroid carcinoma.

  • PHPT and hypercalcaemia of malignancy, account for the majority of clinical presentations of hypercalcaemia.

  • Spontaneous remission of PHPT due to necrosis, haemorrhage and infarction of parathyroid adenoma, the so-called ‘parathyroid auto-infarction’, ‘auto-parathyroidectomy’ or ‘parathyroid apoplexy’ is a very rare in clinical practice but has been previously reported in the literature.

  • In most cases, patients with parathyroid auto-infarction undergo parathyroidectomy. Those who are managed conservatively need to remain under close clinical and biochemical surveillance long-term as in most cases PHPT recurs, sometimes several years after auto-infarction.

Open access

Carine Ghassan Richa, Khadija Jamal Saad, Ali Khaled Chaaban, and Mohamad Souheil El Rawas

Summary

The objective of the study is to report a case of acute pancreatitis secondary to hypercalcemia induced by primary hyperparathyroidism in a pregnant woman at the end of the first trimester. The case included a 32-year-old woman who was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and severe hypercalcemia refractory to many regimens of medical therapy in the first trimester of pregnancy. She was successfully treated with parathyroidectomy in the early second trimester with complete resolution of hypercalcemia and pancreatitis. Neonatal course was unremarkable. To our best knowledge, this is a rare case when primary hyperparathyroidism and its complications are diagnosed in the first trimester of pregnancy. In conclusion, primary hyperparathyroidism is a rare life-threatening condition to the fetus and mother especially when associated with complications such as pancreatitis. Early therapeutic intervention is important to reduce the morbidity and mortality. Parathyroidectomy performed in the second trimester can be the only solution.

Learning points:

  • Learning how to make diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism in a woman during the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Understanding the complications of hypercalcemia and be aware of the high mortality and sequelae in both fetus and mother.

  • Providing the adequate treatment in such complicated cases with coordinated care between endocrinologists and obstetricians to ensure optimal outcomes.

Open access

Katsumi Taki, Takahiko Kogai, Junko Sakumoto, Takashi Namatame, and Akira Hishinuma

Summary

A de novo heterozygous inactivating mutation of calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) gene typically causes neonatal hyperparathyroidism (NHPT) with moderate hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroid bone disease. We present a case of asymptomatic hypocalciuric hypercalcemia with a de novo heterozygous mutation in CASR, S591C, which is primarily reported to be responsible for NHPT. A 54-year-old female was referred for investigation of asymptomatic hypercalcemia that was initially found in the 1980s but without a history of bone disease during the perinatal period. She had moderate hypercalcemia (12.4 mg/dl) and relative hypocalciuria (fractional extraction of calcium 1.07%) but normal intact parathyroid hormone and serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Pedigree analysis revealed that she carried a de novo heterozygous mutation of S591C, which she transmitted to an affected child with moderate hypercalcemia but not to other children, who had normal serum calcium levels. A de novo heterozygous CASR mutation that is responsible for NHPT may also present in individuals with asymptomatic hypocalciuric hypercalcemia. Caution is required when predicting course and outcome in a pedigree with CASR mutation, as well as incidental hypercalcemia, because of its variable phenotypes.

Learning points

  • The phenotype and severity of CASR mutations are thought to be dependent on genotypes.

  • We report an asymptomatic case of the de novo heterozygous S591C mutation in CASR, which has previously been reported as a responsible mutation of NHPT with bone diseases.

  • Variable phenotypes of CASR raise a cautionary note about predicting outcome by genotyping in a pedigree with CASR mutation.

Open access

Sachiko-Tsukamoto Kawashima, Takeshi Usui, Yohei Ueda, Maiko-Kakita Kobayashi, Mika Tsuiki, Kanako Tanase-Nakao, Kazutaka Nanba, Tetsuya Tagami, Mitsuhide Naruse, Yoshiki Watanabe, Ryo Asato, Sumiko Kato, and Akira Shimatsu

Summary

Parathyroid cystic adenomas are often misdiagnosed as thyroid cysts and routine preoperative diagnostic tools, such as ultrasonography (US) or 99m technetium-sestamibi (99mTc-MIBI) scans, cannot clearly distinguish between these entities. We present a 67-year-old hypercalcemic woman with a cervical cystic lesion who had negative sestamibi scan results. Her laboratory data indicated primary hyperparathyroidism (serum calcium concentration 14.0 mg/dl, phosphate concentration 2.3 mg/dl, and intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration 239 pg/ml). The cervical US and computed tomography scans revealed a large and vertically long cystic mass (12×11×54 mm). A mass was located from the upper end of the left thyroid lobe to the submandibular region and was not clearly distinguishable from the thyroid. For preoperative definitive diagnosis, we carried out a parathyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst. The intact PTH–FNA concentration was 1.28×106 pg/ml, and the patient was diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism due to a cystic mass. She underwent a left upper parathyroidectomy and her serum calcium and intact PTH concentration immediately decreased to normal levels. This report describes the usefulness of PTH–FNA for localizing and differentiating an atypical functional parathyroid lesion from nonfunctional tissue in primary hyperparathyroidism.

Learning points

  • Cystic parathyroid lesions, even in the case of elevated PTH levels, can produce negative results in 99mTc-MIBI scans.

  • Preoperative diagnosis of parathyroid cysts detectable on US is possible by parathyroid FNA and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst, if malignancy is not suspected.

  • PTH–FNA could be helpful in the differential diagnosis of an equivocal cervical tumor.

Open access

Kirun Gunganah, Ashley Grossman, and Maralyn Druce

Summary

A 22-year-old female student presented with a history of recurrent pancreatitis. The commonest causes of pancreatitis, including drugs, gallstones, corticosteroids, excess alcohol and hypertriglyceridaemia, were excluded. She was found to have an elevated serum calcium level that was considered to be the cause of her pancreatitis, with a detectable serum parathyroid hormone (PTH). An initial diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism was made. However, two neck explorations failed to reveal a parathyroid adenoma. She was referred to our unit three years later as her episodes of pancreatitis were becoming more frequent and her calcium level remained persistently elevated. Her investigations were as follows: elevated adjusted calcium level of 2.79 mmol/l (2.2–2.58), PTH level of 4.2 pmol/l (0.6–6.0), low 24 h urine calcium of 0.3 mmol/l and a urine calcium:creatinine ratio of <0.003. A clinical diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) was made and confirmed on genetic testing that showed a c.1703 G>A mutation in the calcium-sensing receptor gene. Although the hypercalcaemia of FHH is usually without sequelae due to the generalised changes in calcium sensing, in the presence of this complication she was started on cinacalcet 30 mg daily. She had one further episode of pancreatitis with calcium levels ranging between 2.53 and 2.66 mmol/l. Her cinacalcet was gradually increased to 30 mg three times daily, maintaining her calcium levels in the range of 2.15–2.20 mmol/l. She has not had a further episode of pancreatitis for more than 2 years.

FHH is usually a benign condition with minimal complications from hypercalcaemia. Pancreatitis has been reported rarely, and no clear management strategy has been defined in these cases. Cinacalcet was successfully used in treating recurrent pancreatitis in a patient with FHH by maintaining calcium levels in the lower part of the reference range. Whether or not this is an effective long-term treatment remains yet to be seen.

Learning points

  • FHH is an important differential diagnosis for hypercalcaemia.

  • FHH can rarely cause pancreatitis.

  • No clear strategy is available to help in the management of patients with pancreatitis due to FHH.

  • Cinacalcet was effective in lowering serum calcium levels and reducing the frequency of pancreatitis in our patient with FHH.