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Open access

David Joseph Tansey, Jim John Egan, Michelle Murray, Katie Padfield, John Conneely, and Mensud Hatunic

Summary

Phaeochromocytoma is a rare catecholamine-producing tumour. We present the case of phaeochromocytoma in a young man with a background history of a double-lung transplant for cystic fibrosis (CF). Clinical case: A 25-year-old man, with a background history of CF, CF-related diabetes (CFRD) and a double-lung transplant in 2012 was presented to the emergency department with crampy abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. He was diagnosed with distal intestinal obstructions syndrome (DIOS). Contrast-enhanced CT imaging of the abdomen and pelvis showed a 3.4 cm right adrenal lesion. This was confirmed by a subsequent MRI of adrenal glands that demonstrated moderate FDG uptake, suggestive of a diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma. The patient was noted to be hypertensive with a blood pressure averaging 170/90 mm/Hg despite treatment with three different anti-hypertensive medications – amlodipine, telmisartan and doxazosin. He had hypertension for the last 3 years and had noted increasingly frequent sweating episodes recently, without palpitations or headache. Laboratory analysis showed elevated plasma normetanephrines (NMN) of 3167 pmol/L (182–867) as well as elevated metanephrines (MN) of 793 pmol/L (61–377) and a high 3-MT of 257 pmol/L (<185). Once cathecholamine excess was identified biochemically, we proceeded to functional imaging to further investigate. MIBG scan showed a mild increase in the uptake of tracer to the right adrenal gland compared to the left. The case was discussed at a multidisciplinary (MDT) meeting at which the diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma was made. Following a challenging period of 4 weeks to control the patient’s blood pressure with an alpha-blocker and beta-blocker, the patient had an elective right adrenalectomy, with normalisation of his blood pressure post-surgery. The histopathology of the excised adrenal gland was consistent with a 3 cm phaeochromocytoma with no adverse features associated with malignant potential.

Learning points

  • Five to ten per cent of patients have a secondary cause for hypertension. Phaeochromocytomas are rare tumours, originating in chromaffin cells and they represent 0.1–1.0% of all secondary hypertension cases.
  • Secondary causes should be investigated in cases where:
  • Patient is presenting <20 years of age or >50 years of age,
  • There is refractory hypertension, or
  • There is serious end-organ damage present.
  • Patients may present with the triad of headache, sweating and palpitations or more vague, non-specific symptoms.
  • Patients with suspected phaeochromocytoma should have 24-h urinary catecholamines measured and if available, plasma metanephrines measured. Those with abnormal biochemical tests should be further investigated with imaging to locate the tumour.
  • Medical treatment involves alpha- and beta-blockade for at least 2 to 3 weeks before surgery as well as rehydration.
  • There is a possibility of relapse so high-risk patients require life-long follow-up.
Open access

Sarah Ying Tse Tan, Swee Ping Teh, Manish Kaushik, Tze Tein Yong, Shivani Durai, Claudia Jong-Chie Tien, and Daphne Su-Lyn Gardner

Summary

Gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis is associated with significant maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. We report a case of gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis in a primigravida at 31-weeks gestation, complicated by impending preterm labor and metabolic acidosis requiring hemodialysis. This was successfully managed with therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), followed by i.v. insulin, low-fat diet, and omega-3. Triglyceride levels stabilized after TPE and the patient underwent an uncomplicated term delivery. In pregnancy, elevated estrogen and insulin resistance exacerbate hypertriglyceridemia. Management is challenging as risks and benefits of treatment options need to be weighed against fetal wellbeing. We discuss management options including a review of previous case reports detailing TPE use, dietary optimization, and delivery timing. This case emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary care to optimize maternal and fetal outcomes.

Learning points

  • Gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis has high morbidity.
  • A multidisciplinary team approach is a key as maternal and fetal needs must be addressed.
  • Rapid lowering of triglycerides is crucial and can be achieved successfully and safely with plasma exchange.
  • A low-fat diet while ensuring adequate nutrition in pregnancy is important.
  • Timing of delivery requires consideration of fetal maturity and risk of recurrent pancreatitis.
Open access

Joana Lima Ferreira, Bernardo Marques, C Willemien Menke-van der Houven van Oordt, Wouter W de Herder, Tessa Brabander, and Johannes Hofland

Summary

Middle ear adenomas with neuroendocrine features (ANEF) are rare, with an estimated 150 reported cases. They usually pursue an indolent clinical course. Four reported cases of middle ear ANEF with distant metastases were treated with surgery, external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and chemotherapy. To date, no successful systemic treatment for malignant behaviour of this rare tumour has been reported. Long-acting somatostatin analogues (SSAs) and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) have been used in well-differentiated metastatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), but their use has never been described in cases of metastatic middle ear ANEF. We report two patients with grade 1 middle ear ANEF treated with surgery and EBRT. They had stable disease for several years, until clinical symptoms appeared and extensive metastases were detected on 68Ga-DOTA0-Tyr3-octreotate (DOTATATE) PET/CT. Treatment with long-acting SSA was started, with stable disease for 1 year. Afterwards, despite undergoing local treatments, both patients presented progressive disease. Due to high-uptake metastases at 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT, both cases underwent four cycles of PRRT with 177Lu-DOTATATE, which secured disease control and improvement of quality of life in both. Similar to other well-differentiated NETs, SSA and PRRT could constitute efficacious therapeutic options in metastatic middle ear ANEF. Its neuroendocrine differentiation, potential to metastasize and somatostatin receptor type 2 expression prompt consideration and management of this disease as a neuroendocrine neoplasm.

Learning points

  • Our cases oppose the 2017 WHO classification of middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features as a benign disease.
  • This entity warrants long-term follow-up, as local recurrence or persistence of disease is reported in up to 18% of surgically treated patients.
  • PET/CT scan with 68Ga-labelled somatostatin analogues (SSA) can be used for staging of metastatic middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features.
  • Unlabelled SSA and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with radiolabelled SSA can be the first systemic therapeutic options for patients with advanced middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features.
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

Alejandra Perez-Montes de Oca, Silvia Pellitero, and Manel Puig-Domingo

Summary

Hypoglycemia is an uncommon clinical problem in non-diabetic patients or patients not being treated for diabetes mellitus. It is a rare, but well-established complication of bariatric surgery and, in some cases, it can be the only symptom of another medical problem. A 50-year-old woman with a history of partially recovered hypopituitarism after transsphenoidal surgery for a non-functioning pituitary macroadenoma complained about symptomatic hypoglycemia after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Our initial studies failed to determine the cause for these episodes and treatment with acarbose (suspecting a dumping syndrome) was not helpful. Finally, laboratory findings revealed growth hormone (GH) deficiency. The patient received treatment with GH, with the resolution of symptoms after 3 months of treatment. Our case suggests that all causes of hypoglycemia should be considered and studied after bariatric surgery. An improvement in insulin-resistance following bariatric surgery can trigger clinical manifestations of GH deficiency.

Learning points:

  • Postprandial hypoglycemia after bariatric surgery is usually due to dumping syndrome.
  • Even after bariatric surgery, all causes of hypoglycemia should be considered and studied.
  • After significant weight loss, insulin sensitivity is usually restored and can trigger clinical manifestations of GH deficiency.
  • Hypoglycemia is a rare symptom of GH deficiency.
Open access

L M Mermejo, F G Carvalho, C A F Molina, S Tucci, V F Muglia, J Elias, P C L Elias, M Castro, and A C Moreira

Summary

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a malignant disorder with rapid evolution and severe prognosis in adults and most produce cortisol and androgen. Estrogen-secreting adrenocortical carcinomas are extremely rare, especially in women, tend to be larger and have worse prognosis compared with other types of ACCs. We report the case of a 58-year-old woman who presented with bilateral breast enlargement and postmenopausal genital bleeding. She presented high estradiol (818 pg/mL – 25 times above upper normal limit for postmenopausal women) and testosterone (158 ng/dL – 2 times above upper normal limit) levels and no suppression of cortisol after overnight 1 mg dexamethasone test (12.5 µg/dL; normal reference value: < 1.8 µg/dL). The patient had no clinical features of cortisol excess. MRI showed a 12 cm tumor in the right adrenal. Clinical findings of bilateral breast enlargement and postmenopausal genital bleeding with no signs of hypercortisolism associated with hormonal findings of elevated estradiol and testosterone levels would indicate either an ovarian etiology or an adrenal etiology; however, in the context of plasma cortisol levels non-suppressive after dexamethasone test and the confirmation of an adrenal tumor by MRI, the diagnosis of an adrenal tumor with mixed hormonal secretion was made. The patient underwent an open right adrenalectomy and pathological examination revealed an ACC with a Weiss’ score of 6. Estradiol and testosterone levels decreased to normal range soon after surgery. She was put on mitotane treatment as adjuvant therapy, but due to side effects, we were unable to up-titrate the dose and she never achieved serum mitotane dosage above the desired 14 µg/mL. The patient remained in good health without any local recurrence or metastasis until 5 years after surgery, when increased levels of estradiol (81 pg/mL – 2.5 times above upper normal limit) and testosterone (170 ng/dL – 2.1 times above upper normal limit) were detected. MRI revealed a retroperitoneal nodule measuring 1.8 × 1.2 cm. The pathological finding confirmed the recurrence of the estrogen-secreting ACC with a Weiss’ score of 6. After the second procedure, patient achieved normal estrogen and androgen serum levels and since then she has been followed for 3 years. The overall survival was 8 years after the diagnosis. In conclusion, although extremely rare, a diagnosis of an estrogen-secreting ACC should be considered as an etiology in postmenopausal women presenting with bilateral breast enlargement, genital bleeding and increased pure or prevailing estrogen secretion.

Learning points:

  • Estrogen-secreting adrenocortical carcinomas are exceedingly rare in adults and account for 1−2% of adrenocortical carcinomas.
  • Estrogen-secreting adrenal tumors can be present in females, but are even more rare, we found few cases described in the literature. In women, they present with precocious puberty or postmenopausal bleeding.
  • Feminization in the context of an adrenal tumor is considered almost pathognomonic of malignancy. Feminizing ACCs tend to be larger and with worse prognosis compared with nonfeminizing ACCs.
Open access

Stephanie J Kim, Eric Morris Bomberg, Joshua Menke, Marika Russell, and Elizabeth J Murphy

Differentiated thyroid cancers generally have favorable prognoses, though follicular thyroid cancer is overall associated with a worse prognosis due in part to increased incidence of distant metastasis. We report a case of a 51-year-old woman with a history of widely invasive follicular thyroid carcinoma treated with a total thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine and external beam radiation. Five and a half years following her surgery, she was found to have an axillary lymph node mass, multiple lung masses, and a hilar mass in the setting of declining thyroglobulin (Tg) antibodies. Her metastases were initially thought to be due to a primary lung adenocarcinoma given a neoplastic cell immunophenotype that included an absence of Tg expression and co-expression of TTF-1 and Napsin A. However, PAX8 expression demonstrated that the axillary and hilar metastases were actually thyroid in origin rather than lung. Axillary metastases in differentiated thyroid carcinoma are exceedingly rare and previous reports have typically involved widely disseminated disease with extensive neck lymphadenopathy. With a decline in Tg antibodies levels in high-risk patients, one should consider progression and loss of differentiation of thyroid carcinoma rather than a response to treatment.

Learning points:

  • Axillary metastases in differentiated thyroid carcinoma are uncommon.
  • In patients with high-risk thyroid carcinomas, a decline in thyroglobulin antibody may not signal disease improvement, but rather a progression to a poorly differentiated form of cancer.
  • PAX8 staining can be used to differentiate thyroid carcinomas from lung adenocarcinomas.
Open access

Jennifer R Snaith, Duncan McLeod, Arthur Richardson, and David Chipps

Summary

Insulinomatosis is a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. The ideal management approach is not known. A 40-year-old woman with recurrent symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was diagnosed with an insulinoma. A benign 12 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was resected but hypoglycaemia recurred 7 years later. A benign 10 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was then resected but hypoglycaemia recurred within 2 months. Octreotide injections were trialled but exacerbated hypoglycaemia. After a 2-year interval, she underwent total pancreatectomy. A benign 28 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was found alongside insulin-expressing monohormonal endocrine cell clusters (IMECCs) and islet cell hyperplasia, consistent with a diagnosis of insulinomatosis. Hypoglycaemia recurred within 6 weeks. There was no identifiable lesion on MRI pancreas, Ga-68 PET or FDG PET. Diazoxide and everolimus were not tolerated. MEN-1 testing was negative. Insulinomatosis should be suspected in insulinomas with early recurrence or multifocality. De novo lesions can arise throughout the pancreas. Extensive surgery will assist diagnosis but may not provide cure.

Learning points:

  • Insulinomas are usually benign and managed surgically.
  • Insulinomatosis is characterised by multifocal benign insulinomas with a tendency to recur early. It is rare.
  • Multifocal or recurrent insulinomas should raise suspicion of MEN-1 syndrome, or insulinomatosis.
  • Insulinomatosis is distinguished histologically by insulin-expressing monohormonal endocrine cell clusters (IMECCs) and tumour staining only for insulin, whereas MEN-1 associated insulinomas stain for multiple hormones.
  • The ideal treatment strategy is unknown. Total pancreatectomy may not offer cure.
Open access

Alessandro Prete, Giada Cosentino, Luca Manetti, Carlo Enrico Ambrosini, Piermarco Papini, Michele Marinò, Liborio Torregrossa, Claudio Marcocci, Rossella Elisei, and Isabella Lupi

Summary

In elderly patients presenting with a solid thyroid mass, the differential diagnosis between benign and malignant lesion is not always straightforward. We present the case of an 85-year-old woman with fever and an enlarged, firm and painful thyroid mass. Blood exams documented a mild thyrotoxicosis with a moderate inflammatory status. Thyroid scintiscan showed an absent uptake of 131I. Ultrasound and CT scan documented a 3 cm hypoechoic nodule with infiltration of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, very suspicious for neoplastic nature. Fine-needle aspiration and tru-cut biopsy were performed. During biopsy, the lesion was partially drained and a brownish fluid was extracted. The culture resulted positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae whereas the pathological analysis of the specimen was not conclusive due to the presence of an intense inflammatory response. A targeted oral antibiotic therapy was then initiated, obtaining only a partial response thus, in order to achieve a definite diagnosis, a minimally invasive hemithyroidectomy was performed. The pathological analysis documented acute suppurative thyroiditis and the clinical conditions of the patient significantly improved after surgical removal of thyroid abscess. In elderly patients with a solid thyroid mass, although neoplastic origin is quite frequent, acute suppurative thyroiditis should be considered as a differential diagnosis.

Learning points:

  • A solid and rapidly growing thyroid mass in elderly patients can hide a multifaceted variety of diseases, both benign and malign.
  • A multidisciplinary team (endocrinologist, surgeon, radiologist and pathologist) could be necessary in order to perform a correct differential diagnosis and therapeutic approach.
  • Surgery can be decisive not only to clarify a clinically uncertain diagnosis, but also to rapidly improve the clinical conditions of the patient.