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Open access

Anna Elvira S Arcellana, Karen Joy B Adiao, and Myrna Buenaluz-Sedurante

Summary

Occasionally, autoimmune disorders can come in twos. This double trouble creates unique challenges. Myasthenia gravis co-existing with autoimmune thyroid disease occurs in only about 0.14–0.2% of cases. The patient is a 27-year-old man with a 2-month history of bilateral ptosis, diplopia, with episodes of easy fatigability, palpitations, and heat intolerance. On physical exam, the patient had an enlarged thyroid gland. Myasthenia gravis was established based on the presence of ptosis with weakness of the intraocular muscles, abnormal fatigability, and a repetitive nerve stimulation study indicated neuromuscular junction disease. Episodes of fluctuating right shoulder weakness were also noted. He was also found to have elevated FT3, FT4, and a suppressed TSH. Thyroid ultrasound revealed thyromegaly with diffused parenchymal disease. Thyroid scintigraphy showed increased uptake function at 72.4% uptake at 24 h. TRAb was positive at 4.1 U/L. Patient was started on pyridostigmine which led to a significant reduction in the frequency of ocular muscle weakness. Methimazole was also initiated. Radioactive iodine at 14.9 mci was instituted for the definitive management of hyperthyroidism. After RAI, there was abatement of the hyperthyroid symptoms, as well as improvement in the status of the myasthenia gravis, with ptosis, diplopia, and right arm weakness hardly occurring thereafter despite the reduction of the pyridostigmine dose based on a symptom diary and medication intake record. Two distinct autoimmune conditions displayed a markedly improved clinical course with the institution of radioactive iodine therapy for Graves’ disease.

Learning points

  • The presence of ptosis, diplopia, and fluctuating muscle weakness are atypical in Graves’ disease and should prompt an investigation on the existence of concurrent myasthenia gravis. A prompt diagnosis of both conditions will enable the institution of appropriate management that would target both rare and challenging autoimmune diseases.

  • Selecting the therapeutic options with minimal risk of morbidity and mortality, which could lead to maximal benefit especially in a resource-limited setting is paramount.

  • Targeted non-surgical management can lead to the remission of two autoimmune diseases which can result in patient satisfaction and improved quality of life.

Open access

Aye Chan Maung, May Anne Cheong, Ying Ying Chua, and Daphne Su-Lyn Gardner

Summary

Thyroid storm is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication of excessive thyroid hormone action. It is associated with a hypercoagulable state and reported to increase the risk of thromboembolism. However, the role of anticoagulation in thyroid storm still remains controversial and inconclusive. A 22-year-old male with no significant past medical history presented with acute severe generalised abdominal pain. He was found to be profoundly thyrotoxic on arrival at our institution and subsequently diagnosed with thyroid storm secondary to newly diagnosed Graves’ disease. Extensive thromboses of the splanchnic, iliac, femoral veins and pulmonary arteries were subsequently demonstrated on CT scan. He had prolonged bowel ileus as a sequela of mesenteric ischaemia requiring total parenteral nutrition and non-oral forms of anti-thyroid drugs for management of hyperthyroidism. He was in sinus rhythm throughout his inpatient stay, and there was no personal history of prothrombotic conditions. His thrombophilia screen was normal. He eventually required jejunectomy due to jejunal ischaemia from extensive involvement of portal and mesenteric veins. He underwent radioiodine ablation for definitive treatment. He is currently hypothyroid and receiving thyroxine replacement. Thyroid storms are hypercoagulable states and can be associated with extensive thromboembolism even in the absence of atrial fibrillation. To our knowledge, this is the first report of severe extensive thromboembolism complicated by severe mesenteric ischaemia and bowel ileus in the setting of a thyroid storm. Routine prophylactic anticoagulation should be considered in those presenting with thyroid storms.

Learning points:

  • Prolonged use of rectal propylthiouracil (PTU) for managing hyperthyroidism was effective in a patient who cannot take oral anti-thyroid drugs.

  • Hyperthyroidism is a hypercoagulable state due to an imbalance between coagulation and fibrinolytic factors.

  • Thyroid storm can be associated with extensive thromboembolism even in the absence of atrial fibrillation; routine prophylactic anticoagulation should be considered in the setting of thyroid storms.

Open access

Pratima Herle, Steven Boyages, Rina Hui, Najmun Nahar, and Nicholas K Ngui

Summary

In most developed countries, breast carcinoma is the most common malignancy in women and while thyroid cancer is less common, its incidence is almost three to five times greater in women than in men. Since 1966, studies have demonstrated an association between thyroid and breast cancer and despite these studies, the mechanism/s by which they are related, remains unclear. We present a case of a 56-year-old lady who initially presented in 2014 with a screen detected left breast carcinoma but was subsequently found to have occult metastatic thyroid cancer to the axilla, diagnosed from a sentinel node biopsy from the primary breast procedure. The patient underwent a left mastectomy, left axillary dissection and total thyroidectomy followed by three courses of radioactive iodine ablation. Despite this, her thyroglobulin level continued to increase, which was secondary to a metastatic thyroid cancer parasternal metastasis. Breast and thyroid cancer presents metachronously or synchronously more often than by chance. With improving mortality in primary cancers, such as breast and differentiated thyroid cancer, it is likely that as clinicians, we will continue to encounter this association in practice.

Learning points:

  • There has been a long-standing observation of an association between breast and thyroid cancer although the exact mechanism of this association remains unclear.

  • Our patient presented with thyroid cancer with an incidental diagnosis from a sentinel node biopsy during her primary breast operation for breast cancer and was also found to have a parasternal distant bony metastasis.

  • Thyroid axillary metastases are generally rare.

  • The interesting nature in which this patient’s metastatic thyroid carcinoma behaved more like a breast carcinoma highlights a correlation between these two cancers.

  • With improving mortality in these primary cancers, clinicians are likely to encounter this association in clinical practice.

  • Systemic therapy for metastatic breast and thyroid cancers differ and therefore a clear diagnosis of metastasis is crucial.

Open access

Alejandro García-Castaño, Leire Madariaga, Sharona Azriel, Gustavo Pérez de Nanclares, Idoia Martínez de LaPiscina, Rosa Martínez, Inés Urrutia, Aníbal Aguayo, Sonia Gaztambide, and Luis Castaño

Summary

Familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia type I is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the CASR gene and is characterized by moderately elevated serum calcium concentrations, low urinary calcium excretion and inappropriately normal or mildly elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations. We performed a clinical and genetic characterization of one patient suspected of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia type I. Patient presented persistent hypercalcemia with normal PTH and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. The CASR was screened for mutations by PCR followed by direct Sanger sequencing and, in order to detect large deletions or duplications, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) was used. One large deletion of 973 nucleotides in heterozygous state (c.1733-255_2450del) was detected. This is the first large deletion detected by the MLPA technique in the CASR gene.

Learning points:

  • Molecular studies are important to confirm the differential diagnosis of FHH from primary hyperparathyroidism.

  • Large deletions or duplications in the CASR gene can be detected by the MLPA technique.

  • Understanding the functional impact of the mutations is critical for leading pharmacological research and could facilitate the therapy of patients.

Open access

Cliona Small, Aoife M Egan, El Muntasir Elhadi, Michael W O’Reilly, Aine Cunningham, and Francis M Finucane

Summary

We describe three patients presenting with diabetic ketoacidosis secondary to ketosis prone type 2, rather than type 1 diabetes. All patients were treated according to a standard DKA protocol, but were subsequently able to come off insulin therapy while maintaining good glycaemic control. Ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes (KPD) presenting with DKA has not been described previously in Irish patients. The absence of islet autoimmunity and evidence of endogenous beta cell function after resolution of DKA are well-established markers of KPD, but are not readily available in the acute setting. Although not emphasised in any current guidelines, we have found that a strong family history of type 2 diabetes and the presence of cutaneous markers of insulin resistance are strongly suggestive of KPD. These could be emphasised in future clinical practice guidelines.

Learning points:

  • Even in white patients, DKA is not synonymous with type 1 diabetes and autoimmune beta cell failure. KPD needs to be considered in all patients presenting with DKA, even though it will not influence their initial treatment.

  • Aside from markers of endogenous beta cell function and islet autoimmunity, which in any case are unlikely to be immediately available to clinicians, consideration of family history of type 2 diabetes and cutaneous markers of insulin resistance might help to identify those with KPD and are more readily apparent in the acute setting, though not emphasised in guidelines.

  • Consideration of KPD should never alter the management of the acute severe metabolic derangement of DKA, and phasing out of insulin therapy requires frequent attendance and meticulous and cautious surveillance by a team of experienced diabetes care providers.

Open access

Ruben H Willemsen, Violeta Delgado-Carballar, Daniela Elleri, Ajay Thankamony, G A Amos Burke, James C Nicholson, and David B Dunger

Summary

An 11-year-old boy developed severe syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) after diagnosis of an intracranial B-cell lymphoma. His sodium levels dropped to 118–120 mmol/L despite 70% fluid restriction. For chemotherapy, he required hyperhydration, which posed a challenge because of severe hyponatraemia. Tolvaptan is an oral, highly selective arginine vasopressin V2-receptor antagonist, which has been licensed in adults for the management of SIADH and has been used in treating paediatric heart failure. Tolvaptan gradually increased sodium levels and allowed liberalisation of fluid intake and hyperhydration. Tolvaptan had profound effects on urinary output in our patient with increases up to 8 mL/kg/h and required close monitoring of fluid balance, frequent sodium measurements and adjustments to intake. After hyperhydration, tolvaptan was stopped, and the lymphoma went into remission with reversal of SIADH. We report one of the first uses of tolvaptan in a child with SIADH, and it was an effective and safe treatment to manage severe SIADH when fluid restriction was not possible or effective. However, meticulous monitoring of fluid balance and sodium levels and adjustments of fluid intake are required to prevent rapid sodium changes.

Learning points:

  • Tolvaptan can be used in paediatric patients with SIADH to allow hyperhydration during chemotherapy.

  • Tolvaptan has profound effects on urinary output and meticulous monitoring of fluid balance and sodium 
levels is therefore warranted.

  • Tolvaptan was well tolerated without significant side effects.