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Open access

J K Prague, C L Ward, O G Mustafa, B C Whitelaw, A King, N W Thomas, and J Gilbert

Summary

Therapeutic shrinkage of prolactinomas with dopamine agonists achieves clinical benefit but can expose fistulae that have arisen as a result of bony erosion of the sella floor and anterior skull base by the invasive tumour, resulting in the potential development of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) rhinorrhoea, meningitis, and rarely pneumocephalus. Onset of symptoms is typically within 4 months of commencing therapy. The management is typically surgical repair via an endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal approach. A 23-year-old man presented to the Emergency Department with acute left limb weakness and intermittent headaches. Visual fields were full to confrontation. Immediate computed tomography and subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), demonstrated a 5 cm lobular/cystic mass invading the right cavernous sinus, displacing and compressing the midbrain, with destruction of the bony sella. He was referred to the regional pituitary multidisciplinary team (MDT). Serum prolactin was 159 455 mIU/l (7514.37 ng/ml) (normal ranges 100–410 mIU/l (4.72–19.34 ng/ml)). Cabergoline was commenced causing dramatic reduction in tumour size and resolution of neurological symptoms. Further dose titrations were required as the prolactin level plateaued and significant residual tumour remained. After 13 months of treatment, he developed continuous daily rhinorrhea, and on presenting to his general practitioner was referred to an otolaryngologist. When next seen in the routine regional pituitary clinic six-months later he was admitted for urgent surgical repair. Histology confirmed a prolactinoma with a low proliferation index of 2% (Ki-67 antibody). In view of partial cabergoline resistance he completed a course of conventional radiotherapy. Nine months after treatment the serum prolactin had fallen to 621 mIU/l, and 12 months after an MRI showed reduced tumour volume.

Learning points

  • CSF rhinorrhoea occurred 13 months after the initiation of cabergoline, suggesting a need for vigilance throughout therapy.
  • Dedicated bony imaging should be reviewed early in the patient pathway to assess the potential risk of CSF rhinorrhoea after initiation of dopamine agonist therapy.
  • There was a significant delay before this complication was brought to the attention of the regional pituitary MDT, with associated risk whilst left untreated. This demonstrates a need for patients and healthcare professionals to be educated about early recognition and management of this complication to facilitate timely and appropriate referral to the MDT for specialist advice and management. We changed our nurse-led patient education programme as a result of this case.
  • Having developed partial cabergoline resistance and CSF rhinorrhoea, an excellent therapeutic response was achieved with conventional radiotherapy after limited surgery.

Open access

Maryam Rahman, Ignacio Jusué-Torres, Abdulrahman Alkabbani, Roberto Salvatori, Fausto J Rodríguez, and Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Summary

Pituitary adenomas are usually solitary lesions. Rarely, patients may present with two distinct pituitary tumors. We report a case of synchronous secretory pituitary adenomas in a woman who initially presented with elevated prolactin levels. She was initially treated with cabergoline, but, after many years, she began developing symptoms consistent with acromegaly. Imaging revealed two distinct tumors within the pituitary gland. Endocrinological investigation confirmed acromegaly. At the time of surgery, two separate tumors were identified and resected. Pathological analysis demonstrated one tumor as a prolactinoma, and the other tumor as a GH-secreting adenoma. Postoperatively, her GH and IGF1 levels normalized, while the prolactin level remained slightly above normal. This case highlights that GH and prolactin level elevation is not always from co-secretion by the same adenoma.

Learning points

  • Synchronous pituitary adenomas represent <0.5% of pituitary tumors requiring surgery.
  • In the setting of elevated GH and prolactin levels, one cannot assume that they are co-secreted by the same adenoma.
  • A careful study of hormonal workup and pre-operative imaging is necessary for synchronous pituitary adenomas to assure resection of both tumors.

Open access

Aimee R Hayes, Anthony J O'Sullivan, and Mark A Davies

Summary

Pituitary apoplexy is a rare event in pregnancy. A 41-year-old woman with a known pituitary microadenoma presented with visual disturbance and headache during the second trimester of pregnancy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated pituitary apoplexy with chiasmal compression. After treatment with corticosteroid therapy, she underwent transsphenoidal excision of the pituitary adenoma. Visual abnormalities were completely restored and pituitary function preserved. There was no evidence of impact on the foetus. The literature on the subject is reviewed with emphasis on the management of the apoplectic patient with mild and stable neuro-ophthalmological signs.

Learning points

  • There are no clear guidelines on the management of pituitary apoplexy in pregnancy. A multidisciplinary approach can minimise morbidity and mortality.
  • Pituitary apoplexy has an unpredictable clinical course and determining which clinical situations warrant early surgery needs to take into consideration the presence and severity of neurological signs and their stability.
  • The management of conscious apoplectic patients with absent or mild and stable neuro-ophthalmological signs is controversial.

Open access

Niki Margari and Simon Page

Summary

A 56-year-old man was brought to the Emergency Department after being found collapsed at his office with a reduced level of consciousness. From clinical examination and initial investigations, he was diagnosed as having bacterial meningitis and was promptly commenced on empirical i.v. antibiotics. Computed tomography of the brain revealed a parenchymal mass at the base of the skull and subsequent magnetic resonance imaging of the head 4 days later confirmed a large soft tissue mass, which extended through to the cavernous sinus. Examination of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) following lumbar puncture confirmed pneumococcal meningitis and antibiotics were continued for 2 weeks in total. During the admission, hormone profiling revealed a grossly elevated prolactin. When coupled with the initial results of the brain imaging, this result helped to confirm a macroprolactinoma that was invading the postnasal space. A final diagnosis of pneumococcal meningitis secondary to invading prolactinoma was made. The patient was started on cabergoline and was followed up in the outpatient clinic upon discharge. He made a full recovery from the meningitis. Over the next few months, prolactin levels returned to be normal and the prolactinoma shrank significantly in size. The patient remains on cabergoline that will most likely be continued indefinitely.

Learning points

  • Bacterial meningitis is a rare first presentation of pituitary macroprolactinoma.
  • Patients with invasive macroprolactinoma do not always present with CSF leakage.
  • Prompt treatment with antibiotics and a dopamine agonist is of great importance for a favourable outcome.
  • Close monitoring of the patient for signs of raised intracranial pressure is essential in the management of macroprolactinoma.
  • Note the risk of CSF leakage after initiation of dopamine agonist therapy irrespective of concomitant meningitis in macroprolactinoma.