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Open access

Michail Katsamakas, Eleni Tzitzili, Maria Boudina, Anastasia Kiziridou, Rosalia Valeri, Georgios Zafeiriou, and Alexandra Chrisoulidou

Summary

We present two cases of thyroid sarcoidosis that were misdiagnosed as thyroid cancer. In the first patient, fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAc) of a suspicious thyroid nodule indicated the presence of papillary thyroid cancer, and the patient underwent thyroid surgery. However, histopathology identified a sarcoid granuloma, without any sign of malignancy. The second patient had a history of papillary microcarcinoma with suspicious lymph nodes diagnosed years after the initial diagnosis and was referred for assessment of cervical lymphadenopathy. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAc) of the suspicious lymph nodes erroneously indicated metastasis from thyroid cancer, and lateral modified lymph node dissection was performed, based on FNAc and ultrasonographic features. Histopathology excluded malignancy and identified non-caseating granulomas. Sarcoidosis of the thyroid may have a clinical presentation similar to well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma and, although rare, should be considered in the differential diagnosis, especially when other signs of the disease are already present. In these cases, FNAc provided a false diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma and lymph node metastases that led to unnecessary surgery.

Learning points

  • Sarcoidosis may share clinical and ultrasonographic features with papillary thyroid carcinoma.

  • Fine needle aspiration cytology is helpful in the diagnosis of both conditions; however, the overlapping cytological characteristics may lead to erroneous diagnosis.

  • The present cases illustrate the importance of cytological identification of these difficult cases. Every piece of information provided by the clinician is essential to the cytologist.

Open access

Marcio José Concepción Zavaleta, Sofia Pilar Ildefonso Najarro, Esteban Alberto Plasencia Dueñas, María Alejandra Quispe Flores, Diego Martín Moreno Marreros, Luis Alberto Concepción Urteaga, Laura Esther Luna Victorio, and Freddy Valdivia Fernández Dávila

Summary

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is the type of thyroid cancer that has the worst prognosis. It usually presents as a rapidly growing cervical mass that generates compressive symptoms. Its association with thyrotoxicosis is rare. A 76-year-old woman, with no contributory history, presented with a 3-month course of fast-growing cervical tumor, associated with tenderness, cough, and weight loss. Physical examination revealed goiter, localized erythema, and a painful and stone tumor dependent on the right thyroid lobe. Due to the malignant findings of the thyroid ultrasound, the patient underwent a thyroid core needle biopsy, which indicated ATC. Laboratory tests revealed leukocytosis, decreased thyroid-stimulating hormone, elevated free thyroxine (fT4), and increased thyroperoxidase (TPO) antibodies. At the beginning, we considered that the etiology of thyrotoxicosis was secondary to subacute thyroiditis (SAT) after SARS-CoV-2 infection, due to the immunochromatography result and chest tomography findings. The result of markedly elevated TPO antibodies left this etiology more remote. Therefore, we suspected Graves’ disease as an etiology; however, thyroid histopathology and ultrasound did not show compatible findings. Therefore, we suspect that the main etiology of thyrotoxicosis in the patient was the destruction of the thyroid follicles caused by a rapid invasion of malignant cells, which is responsible for the consequent release of preformed thyroid hormone. ATC is a rare endocrine neoplasm with high mortality; it may be associated with thyrotoxicosis, whose etiology can be varied; therefore, differential diagnosis is important for proper management.

Learning points

  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the thyroid cancer with the worst prognosis and the highest mortality.

  • The association of anaplastic thyroid cancer with thyrotoxicosis is rare, and a differential diagnosis is necessary to provide adequate treatment.

  • Due to the current pandemic, in patients with thyrotoxicosis, it is important to rule out SARS-CoV-2 as an etiology.

  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer, due to its aggressive behavior and rapid growth, can destroy thyroid follicular cells, generating preformed thyroid hormone release, being responsible for thyrotoxicosis.

Open access

Ann-Elin Meling Stokland, Anne Lise Dahle, Vidar Laurits Kloster, Torbjørn Nedrebø, and Bjørn Gunnar Nedrebø

Summary

Myxedema coma is an important differential diagnosis in critically ill patients. Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount but challenging due to a lack of diagnostic criteria. We report a case about a patient who suffered from untreated hypothyroidism for several years. Before the correct diagnosis was made, he was admitted three times due to severe constipation. Eventually, he developed myxedema coma in connection with a urinary tract infection. The course was complicated by recurrent seizures, and neuroimaging showed bilateral hygromas. Hormone replacement therapy resulted in complete recovery and regression of hygromas. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time hygroma is reported in association with myxedema coma.

Learning points

  • Myxedema coma is a difficult diagnosis to make due to a lack of diagnostic criteria.

  • Cardinal features include hypothermia, bradycardia, gastrointestinal symptoms, pericardial/pleural effusions and affection of CNS. Anemia and hyponatremia are common.

  • In case of suspected myxedema coma, neuroimaging should be a part of the evaluation in most cases.

  • There is a possible association between longstanding/severe hypothyroidism and hygroma.

Open access

Ayesha Ghayur, Qurrat Elahi, Chinmay Patel, and Rishi Raj

Summary

Hypothyroidism is a common medical condition and is often easily managed with excellent outcomes, when treated adequately. Compliance with levothyroxine (LT4) therapy is often compromised because of the need for a daily and lasting schedule. Overt rhabdomyolysis due to under-treatment or non-compliance is a rare occurrence. We report a case of rhabdomyolysis leading to acute kidney injury (AKI) on chronic kidney disease (CKD) requiring hemodialysis (HD) in a 68-year-old Caucasian male due to non-compliance with levothyroxine (LT4) therapy. Our patient 'ran out of levothyroxine' for approximately 4 weeks and developed gradually progressive muscle pain. The diagnosis of severe AKI due to rhabdomyolysis was made based on oliguria, elevated creatinine kinase (CK), and renal failure. Resuming the home dose of LT4 failed to correct CK levels, and there was a progressive decline in renal function. Although increasing doses of LT4 and three cycles of HD improved CK levels, they remained above baseline at the time of discharge. The patient recovered gradually and required HD for 4 weeks. CK levels normalized at 6 weeks. Through this case report, we highlight that non-compliance with LT4 therapy can lead to life-threatening complications such as renal failure and hence the need to educate patients on the significance of compliance with LT4 therapy should be addressed.

Learning points

  • Non-compliance to levothyroxine therapy is common and can lead to serious complications, including rhabdomyolysis.

  • Rhabdomyolysis is an uncommon presentation of hypothyroidism and severe rhabdomyolysis can result in renal failure requiring hemodialysis.

  • Rhabdomyolysis associated with hypothyroidism can be further exacerbated by concomitant use of statins.

Open access

Jean Marc Mizzi, Christopher Rizzo, and Stephen Fava

Summary

An 82-year-old female was admitted to a general hospital due to progressive bilateral lower limb weakness. A T8–T9 extramedullary meningioma was diagnosed by MRI, and the patient was referred for excision of the tumour. During the patient’s admission, she was noted to have persistent hyperkalaemia which was refractory to treatment. Following a review by an endocrinology team, a diagnosis of pseudohyperkalaemia secondary to thrombocytosis was made. This case demonstrates the importance of promptly identifying patients who are susceptible to pseudohyperkalaemia, in order to prevent its potentially serious consequences.

Learning points

  • Pseudohyperkalaemia should be considered in patients with unexplained or asymptomatic hyperkalaemia. It should also be considered in those patients who are resistant to the classical treatment of hyperkalaemia.

  • A diagnosis of pseudohyperkalaemia is considered when there is a difference of >0.4 mmol/L of potassium between serum and plasma potassium in the absence of symptoms and ECG changes.

  • In patients who are presenting with consistently elevated serum potassium levels, it may be beneficial to take venous blood gas and/ or plasma potassium levels to rule out pseudohyperkalaemia.

  • Pseudohyperkalaemia may subject patients to iatrogenic hypokalaemia which can be potentially fatal.

  • Pseudohyperkalaemia can occur secondary to thrombocytosis, red cell haemolysis due to improper blood letting techniques, leukaemia and lymphoma.

Open access

Rajiv Singh and Cynthia Mohandas

Summary

A phaeochromocytoma is a rare neuroendocrine tumour derived from the chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla. Tumours can produce excessive amounts of catecholamines. The presenting symptoms can vary but often include the classic triad of episodic headaches, sweating and palpitations. Due to catecholamine excess, patients can develop cardiomyopathy. Bradycardia and collapse could be the result of sinus node dysfunction or transient dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. Patients with co-existing diabetes can have improvement or resolution of their diabetes after successful adrenalectomy. We report a case of an 87-year-old lady who initially presented with sweating, palpitations and collapse, resulting in a permanent pacemaker insertion. She was later found to have a large adrenal incidentaloma with subsequent markedly elevated plasma metanephrine levels. She later presented with chest pain and in acute pulmonary oedema with normal coronary arteries visualised on coronary angiogram. After surgical excision of her phaeochromocytoma, her diabetes resolved with her HbA1c improving from 68 to 46 mmol/mol, with no further requirement for diabetic medications. Her pulmonary oedema improved with no ongoing need for diuretic therapy. This case highlights that phaeochromocytomas can affect multiple systems and there should be a very high index of suspicion in patients presenting with sweating, palpitations, hypertension and a history of diabetes and even in those with collapse.

Learning points

  • There should be a high index of suspicion for phaeochromocytomas in patients with palpitations, diaphoresis, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Rarely phaeochromocytomas can present as bradycardia and collapse due to sinus node dysfunction or transient autonomic dysregulation and that should be considered in older patients.

  • Catecholamine cardiomyopathy can occur in phaeochromocytoma with potential resolution after successful surgical excision.

  • Diabetes can resolve after successful surgical treatment of a phaeochromocytoma.

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.

Open access

Alicja Szwilling, Katarzyna Dzygalo, and Jędrzej Nowaczyk

Summary

Kearns–Sayre syndrome (KSS) is a multi-system mitochondrial disease with wide clinical presentation. We describe the case of a 16-year-old girl with KSS accompanied by insulin-dependent diabetes, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), Fanconi syndrome, insufficiency of parathyroid gland and severe nutritional problems. Based on recent knowledge, ketogenic diet was introduced to improve metabolic and neurological condition, however in our patient we observed its bad consequences. Unresolved nutritional disorders forced us to proceed with esophagogastroduodenoscopy which revealed EoE. PEG procedure was performed and elemental diet with PPI’s was introduced leading to general improvement in the patient’s health condition.

Learning points:

  • Nutrition is an important factor in supportive care of patients with KSS.

  • Ketogenic diet in patients affected by mitochondrial diseases and diabetes requires careful selection and monitoring.

  • To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case that shows the coexistence of EoE, insulin-dependent diabetes and KSS.

Open access

Marcio José Concepción-Zavaleta, Sofía Pilar Ildefonso-Najarro, Esteban Alberto Plasencia-Dueñas, María Alejandra Quispe-Flores, Cristian David Armas-Flórez, and Laura Esther Luna-Victorio

Summary

Type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIR) is a rare autoimmune disease caused by antibodies against the insulin receptor. It should be considered in patients with dysglycaemia and severe insulin resistance when other more common causes have been ruled out. We report a case of a 72-year-old male with a 4-year history of type 2 diabetes who presented with hypercatabolism, vitiligo, acanthosis nigricans, and hyperglycaemia resistant to massive doses of insulin (up to 1000 U/day). Detection of anti-insulin receptor antibodies confirmed TBIR. The patient received six pulses of methylprednisolone and daily treatment with cyclophosphamide for 6 months. Response to treatment was evident after the fourth pulse of methylprednisolone, as indicated by weight gain, decreased glycosylated haemoglobin and decreased requirement of exogenous insulin that was later discontinued due to episodes of hypoglycaemia. Remission was eventually achieved and the patient is currently asymptomatic, does not require insulin therapy, has normal glycaemia and is awaiting initiation of maintenance therapy with azathioprine. Thus, TBIR remitted without the use of rituximab. This case highlights the importance of diagnosis and treatment in a timely fashion, as well as the significance of clinical features, available laboratory findings and medication. Large controlled studies are required to standardise a therapeutic protocol, particularly in resource-constrained settings where access to rituximab is limited.

Learning points:

  • Type B insulin resistance syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder that should be considered in patients with dysglycaemia, severe insulin resistance and a concomitant autoimmune disease.

  • Serological confirmation of antibodies against the insulin receptor is not necessary in all cases due to the high associated mortality without timely treatment.

  • Although there is no standardised immunosuppressive treatment, a protocol containing rituximab, cyclophosphamide and steroids has shown a significant reduction in previously reported mortality rates.

  • The present case, reports successful remission in an atypical patient using cyclophosphamide and methylprednisolone, which is an effective therapy in countries in which rituximab is not covered by health insurance.

  • When there is improvement in the hypercatabolic phase, the insulin dose should be reduced and/or discontinued to prevent hypoglycaemia; a mild postprandial hyperglycaemic state should be acceptable.

Open access

Tu Vinh Luong, Zaibun Nisa, Jennifer Watkins, and Aimee R Hayes

Summary

Colorectal poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) are typically associated with poor outcomes. The mechanisms of their aggressiveness are still being investigated. Microsatellite instability (MSI) has recently been found in colorectal NECs showing aberrant methylation of the MLH1 gene and is associated with improved prognosis. We present a 76-year-old lady with an ascending colon tumour showing features of a pT3 N0 R0, large cell NEC (LCNEC) following right hemicolectomy. The adjacent mucosa showed a sessile serrated lesion (SSL) with low-grade dysplasia. Immunohistochemistry showed loss of expression for MLH1 and PMS2 in both the LCNEC and dysplastic SSL. Molecular analysis indicated the sporadic nature of the MLH1 mismatch repair (MMR) protein-deficient status. Our patient did not receive adjuvant therapy and she is alive and disease-free after 34 months follow-up. This finding, similar to early-stage MMR-deficient colorectal adenocarcinoma, is likely practice-changing and will be critical in guiding the appropriate treatment pathway for these patients. We propose that testing of MMR status become routine for early-stage colorectal NECs.

Learning points:

  • Colorectal poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) are known to be aggressive and typically associated with poor outcomes.

  • A subset of colorectal NECs can display microsatellite instability (MSI) with mismatch repair (MMR) protein-deficient status.

  • MMR-deficient colorectal NECs have been found to have a better prognosis compared with MMR-proficient NECs.

  • MMR status can be detected using immunohistochemistry.

  • Immunohistochemistry for MMR status is routinely performed for colorectal adenocarcinomas.

  • Immunohistochemical expression of MMR protein and MSI analysis should be performed routinely for early-stage colorectal NECs in order to identify a subgroup of MMR-deficient NECs which are associated with a significantly more favourable prognosis.