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Open access

N Viola, C Urbani, M Cosottini, A Abruzzese, L Manetti, G Cosentino, G Marconcini, C Marcocci, F Bogazzi, and I Lupi

Summary

Pituitary apoplexy (PA) is a medical emergency with complex diagnosis and management. In this study, we describe a case of PA in a 63-year-old male treated with oral anticoagulant therapy for atrial fibrillation. In the patient, PA manifested itself with asthenia and severe headache not responsive to common analgesics. Despite the finding of a pituitary mass through CT, and in anticipation of the endocrinological evaluation and pituitary MRI, the patient’s clinical condition worsened with an escalation of headache and asthenia associated with deterioration of the visual field and impairment of consciousness level. The emergency assessments revealed an adrenal failure, whereas MRI showed a haemorrhagic pituitary macroadenoma with compression of the optic chiasm. Intravenous fluids repletion and high-dose hydrocortisone were started with a rapid improvement of the patient’s health and visual field abnormalities. Hydrocortisone was gradually reduced to a replacement dose. During the follow-up, panhypopituitarism was documented, and replacement therapies with l-thyroxine and testosterone were introduced. Three months later, a pituitary MRI showed a 50% reduction in the pituitary adenoma volume.

Learning points

  • Pituitary apoplexy (PA) is a medical emergency that can result in haemodynamic instability and abnormalities in the level of consciousness.

  • The management of PA requires a multidisciplinary team that includes endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, neuro-radiologists, and neuro-surgeons.

  • Pituitary MRI with gadolinium is the diagnostic gold standard for PA.

  • PA therapy aims to improve general conditions and treat compression symptoms, especially visual field abnormalities.

  • Adrenocorticotrophic hormone deficiency is a common and severe complication of PA. Thus, all patients with PA must be promptly treated with injective synthetic glucocorticoids (e.g. hydrocortisone 100 mg) and i.v. saline.

  • PA must be taken into consideration in case of sudden headache in patients with a pituitary macroadenoma, especially if other risk factors are recognized.

Open access

N Ayub, A J A T Braat, H J L M Timmers, M G E H Lam, and R S van Leeuwaarde

Summary

Von Hippel–Lindau’s disease (VHL) is a hereditary tumor syndrome characterized by its prototype lesions, hemangioblastomas, and renal cell carcinomas. Treatment for renal cell carcinomas can ultimately result in long-term dialysis. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) can also occur in the course of the disease. Currently, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is the standard treatment for progressive neuroendocrine tumors. However, little is known about treatment with PRRT in patients on dialysis, an infrequent presentation in patients with VHL. We present a 72-year-old man with VHL on hemodialysis and a progressive pNET. He received four cycles of PRRT with a reduced dose. Only mild thrombopenia was seen during treatments. The patient died 9 months after the last PRRT because of acute bleeding in a hemangioblastoma. Hemodialysis is not a limiting factor for PRRT treatment and it should be considered as it seems a safe short-term treatment option for this specific group.

Learning points

  • Von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) is a complex disease in which former interventions can limit optimal treatment for following VHL-related tumors later in life.

  • Metastasized pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors occur as part of VHL disease.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy seems a safe short-term treatment option in patients on hemodialysis.

Open access

Adrian Po Zhu Li, Sheela Sathyanarayan, Salvador Diaz-Cano, Sobia Arshad, Eftychia E Drakou, Royce P Vincent, Ashley B Grossman, Simon J B Aylwin, and Georgios K Dimitriadis

Summary

A 49-year-old teacher presented to his general physician with lethargy and lower limb weakness. He had noticed polydipsia, polyuria, and had experienced weight loss, albeit with an increase in central adiposity. He had no concomitant illnesses and took no regular medications. He had hypercalcaemia (adjusted calcium: 3.34 mmol/L) with hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone: 356 ng/L) and hypokalaemia (K: 2.7 mmol/L) and was admitted for i.v. potassium replacement. A contrast-enhanced CT chest/abdomen/pelvis scan revealed a well-encapsulated anterior mediastinal mass measuring 17 × 11 cm with central necrosis, compressing rather than invading adjacent structures. A neck ultrasound revealed a 2 cm right inferior parathyroid lesion. On review of CT imaging, the adrenals appeared normal, but a pancreatic lesion was noted adjacent to the uncinate process. His serum cortisol was 2612 nmol/L, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was elevated at 67 ng/L, followed by inadequate cortisol suppression to 575 nmol/L from an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. His pituitary MRI was normal, with unremarkable remaining anterior pituitary biochemistry. His admission was further complicated by increased urine output to 10 L/24 h and despite three precipitating factors for the development of diabetes insipidus including hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, and hypercortisolaemia, due to academic interest, a water deprivation test was conducted. An 18flurodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scan demonstrated high avidity of the mediastinal mass with additionally active bilateral superior mediastinal nodes. The pancreatic lesion was not FDG avid. On 68Ga DOTATE-PET scan, the mediastinal mass was moderately avid, and the 32 mm pancreatic uncinate process mass showed significant uptake. Genetic testing confirmed multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Learning points

  • In young patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism, clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of other underlying endocrinopathies.

    In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) and ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone syndrome (EAS), clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of this originating from a neoplasm above or below the diaphragm.

  • Although relatively rare compared with sporadic cases, thymic carcinoids secondary to MEN-1 may also be associated with EAS.

  • Electrolyte derangement, in particular hypokalaemia and hypercalcaemia, can precipitate mild nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

Open access

Nam Quang Tran, Chien Cong Phan, Thao Thi Phuong Doan, and Thang Viet Tran

Summary

Primary adrenal insufficiency is a rare disease and can masquerade as other conditions; therefore, it is sometimes incorrectly diagnosed. Herein, we reported the case of a 39-year-old Vietnamese male with primary adrenal insufficiency due to bilateral adrenal tuberculosis. The patient presented to the emergency room with acute adrenal crisis and a 3-day history of nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, and diarrhoea with a background of 6 months of fatigue, weight loss, and anorexia. Abdominal CT revealed bilateral adrenal masses. Biochemically, unequivocal low morning plasma cortisol (<83 nmol/L) and high plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone levels were consistent with primary adrenal insufficiency. There was no evidence of malignancy or lymphoma. As the patient was from a tuberculosis-endemic area, extra-adrenal tuberculosis was excluded during the work up. A retroperitoneal laparoscopic left adrenalectomy was performed, and tuberculous adrenalitis was confirmed by the histopathological results. The patient was started on antituberculous therapy, in addition to glucocorticoid replacement. In conclusion, even without evidence of extra-adrenal tuberculosis, a diagnosis of bilateral adrenal tuberculosis is required. A histopathological examination has a significant role along with clinical judgement and hormonal workup in establishing a definitive diagnosis of adrenal tuberculosis without evidence of active extra-adrenal involvement.

Learning points

  • Primary adrenal insufficiency can be misdiagnosed as other mimicking diseases, such as gastrointestinal illness, leading to diagnostic pitfalls.

  • Adrenal insufficiency can be confirmed with significantly low morning plasma cortisol levels of <83 nmol/L without a dynamic short cosyntropin stimulation test.

  • Tuberculous adrenalitis is an uncommon treatable condition; however, it remains an important cause of primary adrenal insufficiency, especially in developing countries. In the absence of extra-adrenal involvement, adrenal biopsy plays a key role in the diagnostic process. Alternatively, adrenalectomy for histopathological purposes should be considered if CT scan-guided fine needle aspiration is infeasible in cases of small adrenal masses.

Open access

Clare E Bonnar, John F Brazil, Julie O Okiro, Louise Giblin, Yvonne Smyth, Paula M O’Shea, and Francis M Finucane

Summary

A 32-year-old Caucasian male presented to the emergency department with a one-day history of acute severe bilateral lower limb weakness, three days after competing in a bodybuilding competition. He consumed large quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods following the competition. His past medical history was significant for anxiety, and family history was non-contributory. Examination was normal except for reduced power and hyporeflexia in both legs, despite his muscular physique. He was noted to have severe hypokalaemia (K+= 1.9 mmol/L). His thyroid function tests were consistent with thyrotoxicosis. He reported taking thyroxine and several other agents to facilitate muscle mass generation before the bodybuilding competition. His presentation was reminiscent of thyrotoxic periodic paralysis, albeit uncommon with Caucasian ethnicity. He also had transient hyperglycaemia at presentation with concomitant hyperinsulinaemia, which could be attributed to the carbohydrate load and may have exacerbated his hypokalaemia through a transcellular shift. Urine toxicology screen subsequently ruled out the use of diuretics but confirmed the presence of a long-acting beta agonist (clenbuterol) which, along with other substances, may have aggravated the hypokalaemia further. After 12 h of i.v. replacement, the potassium level normalised and leg weakness resolved. The patient agreed to stop taking thyroxine and beta agonists and was well during the clinic visit at one month follow-up. This case highlights the potential for thyrotoxicosis factitia to exacerbate hypokalaemia and muscle weakness from other causes in bodybuilders presenting with acute severe weakness, irrespective of ethnicity.

Learning points

  • In patients presenting with muscle weakness and hypokalaemia, early consideration of thyrotoxicosis is essential, even in the absence of a past history of thyroid disease or specific symptoms of thyrotoxicosis, in order to allow prompt initiation of appropriate treatment and to prevent recurrence.

  • Bodybuilders may constitute a uniquely ‘at-risk’ group for thyrotoxic periodic paralysis secondary to thyrotoxicosis factitia, especially where there is concomitant use of beta-adrenergic agonists, even in the absence of diuretic use.

  • Although rare and usually described in patients of Asian or Polynesian ethnicity, this case highlights that thyrotoxic periodic paralysis secondary to thyrotoxicosis factitia can also occur in patients with Caucasian ethnicity.

  • We speculate that consuming large quantities of carbohydrates may induce hyperinsulinaemia, which could theoretically contribute to worse hypokalaemia, though mechanistic studies would be needed to explore this further.

Open access

Simon Ryder, Jed Robusto, Thomas Robertson, Hamish Alexander, and Emma L Duncan

Summary

Although pituitary macroadenomas often cause mass effects on surrounding structures, it is extremely rare for pituitary lesions to disturb cerebrospinal fluid circulation. Sellar gangliocytoma-pituitary adenomas (SGPAs) are also extremely rare. Here we report the unique case of a man with the unusual combination of acromegaly from an SGPA, who presented with unilateral hydrocephalus. A 60-year-old man presented with rapid neurological deterioration, bitemporal hemianopia, and acromegalic features. Neuroimaging revealed a large sellar lesion extending superiorly into the left foramen of Monro, causing acute obstructive unilateral hydrocephalus. External ventricular drain placement improved consciousness immediately. Biochemical assessment confirmed acromegaly. Following trans-sphenoidal debulking, histology revealed a mixed gangliocytoma/sparsely-granulated somatotrophinoma. Despite the residual disease, his vision recovered remarkably, low-dose cabergoline controlled residual excess growth hormone (GH) secretion, and the residual tumour has remained extremely stable over 2 years. Hydrocephalus is an extremely rare complication of pituitary lesions, and unilateral hydrocephalus has never been reported previously. GH secretion in SGPAs is more common than for pituitary adenomas in general, raising questions regarding the aetiology and therapeutic approach to this rare combination tumour.

Learning points

  • Pituitary tumours most commonly present with symptoms related to endocrine disturbance or mass effects upon visual pathways (e.g. optic chiasm, nerves in the lateral cavernous sinus). However, extremely rarely, pituitary masses may disrupt cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation resulting in hydrocephalus.

  • Sellar gangliocytomas are very rare tumours and most of them are hybrid tumours with pituitary adenomas (SGPAs).

  • SGPAs are typically indolent and may be functioning or non-functioning tumours.

  • Growth hormone (GH)-producing SGPAs are less likely to respond to somatostatin agonists than classic somatotrophinomas.

  • Primary surgical debulking via a trans-sphenoidal approach was effective in this individual, leading to the restoration of CSF circulation and improvement in visual disturbance, while also negating the need for permanent CSF diversion despite the residual tumour burden.

Open access

Le Tuan Linh, Nguyen Minh Duc, Hoang Tu Minh, Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, Vuong Thu Ha, Dao-Thi Luan, Thieu-Thi Tra My, and Bui Van Lenh

Summary

Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET) is a rare type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) that is also a primary hepatic tumor. Patients are present with almost no specific clinical symptoms and typically present with negative test results and atypical imaging characteristics; therefore, the differentiation of PHNET from other types of primary hepatic masses can be very difficult. In this article, we describe a case of PHNET that mimicked a liver helminth infection in a 57-year-old man. The diagnosis of PHNET in this patient was challenging, and the final diagnosis was based on imaging, histopathology features, and long-term follow-up.

Learning points

  • An uncommon type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET).

  • Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumors are rare NET lesions found in the liver, characterized by non-specific clinical and imaging results, which can be easily confused with other liver lesions, including HCC and parasitic lesions.

  • To have a conclusive diagnosis and classification, a mixture of many medical assessment techniques, such as imaging, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, anatomy, including histopathology, and immunohistochemistry, is essential.

Open access

Ben Wilkinson, Sharifah Faradila Wan Muhamad Hatta, Andrew Garnham, and Harit N Buch

Summary

Primary hyperparathyroidism requires a surgical approach to achieve a long-term cure. However, post-surgical recurrence significantly complicates the management of this condition. A number of causes for recurrent disease are well understood and several diagnostic modalities exist to localise the culprit parathyroid adenoma although none of them is efficacious in localisation of the recurrent lesion. In this case report, we highlight a novel causative mechanism and describe a unique diagnostic sequence that enabled curative treatment to be delivered.

Learning points

  • In the case described herein, we describe a novel location for a parathyroid adenoma causing recurrent PHPT. The case elucidates well the difficulties presented by such cases in terms of surgical planning and show the utility of PVS in such cases. Based on this case, we make the following recommendations:

  • Meticulous care must be taken to prevent seeding of adenomatous tissue during primary excision.

  • To consider the use of PVS in patients with discordant imaging in the setting of recurrent/persistent PHPT as a method to localise the causative adenoma.

  • Same day PVS and surgery is a viable option for patients who either represent an anaesthetic risk or who are extremely anxious about the prospect of two separate procedures.

  • Disordered calcium homeostasis is an important but forgotten cause of dysphagia which can be extremely debilitating for affected patients.

Open access

Tina Kienitz, Jörg Schwander, Ulrich Bogner, Michael Schwabe, Thomas Steinmüller, and Marcus Quinkler

Summary

Apart from adrenal myelolipomas, adrenal lipomatous tumors are rare and only seldom described in the literature. We present the case of a 50-year-old man, with a classical form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which was well treated with prednisolone and fludrocortisone. The patient presented with pollakisuria and shortness of breath while bending over. On MRI, fat-equivalent masses were found in the abdomen (14 × 19 × 11 cm on the right side and 10 × 11 × 6 cm on the left side). The right adrenal mass was resected during open laparotomy and the pathohistological examination revealed the diagnosis of an adrenal lipoma. Symptoms were subdued totally postoperatively. This is the first report of a bilateral adrenal lipoma in a patient with CAH that we are aware of.

Learning points:

  • Macronodular hyperplasia is common in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH).

  • Solitary adrenal tumors appear in approximately 10% of adult CAH patients and are often benign myelolipomas.

  • The Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline does not recommend routine adrenal imaging in adult CAH patients.

  • Adrenal imaging should be performed in CAH patients with clinical signs for an adrenal or abdominal mass.

  • Adrenal lipoma is rare and histopathological examinations should rule out a differentiated liposarcoma.

Open access

Anna Luiza Galeazzi Rech, Yvon Stüve, Andreas Toepfer, and Katrin E Schimke

Summary

Acute Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN) is a clinical entity which can easily go unrecognized in its acute early stages due to lack of awareness and unspecific presentation. However, missing early diagnosis can lead to severe complications. We present the case of a 72-year-old male patient who went through the natural course of the disease unnoticed before the very eyes of his physicians leading to a tragic end. We aim to raise awareness for this rare diabetic complication, emphasizing the necessity of early diagnosis and adequate, interdisciplinary treatment.

Learning points:

  • Clinical signs and symptoms of acute Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN).

  • Red flags.

  • Importance of early diagnosis and correct treatment.

  • Diagnostic challenges of acute CN.

  • Awareness of high morbidity and mortality.