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Open access

Jonathan Brown and Luqman Sardar

Summary

A 68-year-old previously independent woman presented multiple times to hospital over the course of 3 months with a history of intermittent weakness, vacant episodes, word finding difficulty and reduced cognition. She was initially diagnosed with a TIA, and later with a traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage following a fall; however, despite resolution of the haemorrhage, symptoms were ongoing and continued to worsen. Confusion screen blood tests showed no cause for the ongoing symptoms. More specialised investigations, such as brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, electroencephalogram and serology also gave no clear diagnosis. The patient had a background of hypothyroidism, with plasma thyroid function tests throughout showing normal free thyroxine and a mildly raised thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). However plasma anti-thyroid peroxidise (TPO) antibody titres were very high. After discussion with specialists, it was felt she may have a rare and poorly understood condition known as Hashimoto’s encephalopathy (HE). After a trial with steroids, her symptoms dramatically improved and she was able to live independently again, something which would have been impossible at presentation.

Learning points:

  • In cases of subacute onset confusion where most other diagnoses have already been excluded, testing for anti-thyroid antibodies can identify patients potentially suffering from HE.

  • In these patients, and under the guidance of specialists, a trial of steroids can dramatically improve patient’s symptoms.

  • The majority of patients are euthyroid at the time of presentation, and so normal thyroid function tests should not prevent anti-thyroid antibodies being tested for.

  • Due to high titres of anti-thyroid antibodies being found in a small percentage of the healthy population, HE should be treated as a diagnosis of exclusion, particularly as treatment with steroids may potentially worsen the outcome in other causes of confusion, such as infection.

Open access

Kewan Hamid, Neha Dayalani, Muhammad Jabbar and Elna Saah

Summary

A 6-year-old female presented with chronic intermittent abdominal pain for 1 year. She underwent extensive investigation, imaging and invasive procedures with multiple emergency room visits. It caused a significant distress to the patient and the family with multiple missing days at school in addition to financial burden and emotional stress the child endured. When clinical picture was combined with laboratory finding of macrocytic anemia, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism was made. Although chronic abdominal pain in pediatric population is usually due to functional causes such as irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine and functional abdominal pain. Hypothyroidism can have unusual presentation including abdominal pain. The literature on abdominal pain as the main presentation of thyroid disorder is limited. Pediatricians should exclude hypothyroidism in a patient who presents with chronic abdominal pain. Contrast to its treatment, clinical presentation of hypothyroidism can be diverse and challenging, leading to a delay in diagnosis and causing significant morbidity.

Learning points:

  • Hypothyroidism can have a wide range of clinical presentations that are often nonspecific, which can cause difficulty in diagnosis.

  • In pediatric patients presenting with chronic abdominal pain as only symptom, hypothyroidism should be considered by the pediatricians and ruled out.

  • In pediatric population, treatment of hypothyroidism varies depending on patients’ weight and age.

  • Delay in diagnosis of hypothyroidism can cause significant morbidity and distress in pediatrics population.

Open access

Ehtasham Ahmad, Kashif Hafeez, Muhammad Fahad Arshad, Jimboy Isuga and Apostolos Vrettos

Summary

Primary hypothyroidism is a common endocrine condition, most commonly caused by autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) while Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is usually a permanent condition in most patients requiring lifelong levothyroxine treatment. Transformation from Hashimoto’s disease to Graves’ disease is considered rare but recently been increasingly recognised. We describe a case of a 61-year-old lady who was diagnosed with hypothyroidism approximately three decades ago and treated with levothyroxine replacement therapy. Approximately 27 years after the initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism, she started to become biochemically and clinically hyperthyroid. This was initially managed with gradual reduction in the dose of levothyroxine, followed by complete cessation of the medication, but she remained hyperthyroid, ultimately requiring anti-thyroid treatment with Carbimazole. This case highlights that there should be a high index of suspicion for a possible conversion of hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism, even many years after the initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism. To our knowledge, this case illustrates the longest reported time interval between the diagnosis of hypothyroidism until the conversion to hyperthyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Occurrence of Graves’ disease after primary hypothyroidism is uncommon but possible.

  • In this case, there was a time-lapse of almost 28 years and therefore this entity may not be as rare as previously thought.

  • Diagnosis requires careful clinical and biochemical assessment. Otherwise, the case can be easily confused for over-replacement of levothyroxine.

  • We suggest measuring both anti-thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies and TSH receptor antibodies (TRAB) in suspected cases.

  • The underlying aetiology for the conversion is not exactly known but probably involves autoimmune switch by an external stimulus in genetically susceptible individuals.

Open access

Kate Laycock, Abhijit Chaudhuri, Charlotte Fuller, Zahra Khatami, Frederick Nkonge and Nemanja Stojanovic

Summary

Hashimoto’s encephalopathy (HE) is rarely reported with only a few hundred cases published. Diagnosis is made in patients with an appropriate clinical picture and high antithyroperoxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies after infectious, toxic and metabolic causes of encephalopathy have been excluded. There is little objective data on the neurocognitive impairment in patients with HE and their improvement with treatment. We present the case of a 28-year-old woman with HE. Approach to management was novel as objective neuropsychological assessment was used to assess her clinical condition and response to treatment. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) as the first-line treatment instead of steroids. She responded well. The case illustrates that a different approach is required for the diagnosis and treatment of HE. A new diagnostic criteria is proposed that includes neurocognitive assessment, serum and CSF antibodies, an abnormal EEG and exclusion of other causes of encephalopathy. Furthermore, treatment should be tailored to the patient.

Learning points:

  • Neurocognitive assessment should be carried out to assess the extent of brain involvement in suspected Hashimoto’s encephalopathy pre- and post- treatment.

  • Treatment of Hashimoto’s encephalopathy should be tailored to the patient.

  • Unifying diagnostic criteria for Hashimoto’s encephalopathy must be established.

Open access

Alex González Bóssolo, Michelle Mangual Garcia, Paula Jeffs González, Miosotis Garcia, Guillermo Villarmarzo and Jose Hernán Martinez

Summary

Classical papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) is a variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) known to have excellent prognosis. It has a mortality of 0.3%, even in the presence of distance metastasis. The latest American Thyroid Association guidelines state that although lobectomy is acceptable, active surveillance can be considered in the appropriate setting. We present the case of a 37-year-old female with a history of PTMC who underwent surgical management consisting of a total thyroidectomy. Although she has remained disease-free, her quality of life has been greatly affected by the sequelae of this procedure. This case serves as an excellent example of how first-line surgical treatment may result more harmful than the disease itself.

Learning points:

  • Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) has an excellent prognosis with a mortality of less than 1% even with the presence of distant metastases.

  • Active surveillance is a reasonable management approach for appropriately selected patients.

  • Patients should be thoroughly oriented about the risks and benefits of active surveillance vs immediate surgical treatment. This discussion should include the sequelae of surgery and potential impact on quality of life, especially in the younger population.

  • More studies are needed for stratification of PTMC behavior to determine if conservative management is adequate for all patients with this specific disease variant.

Open access

Marco Russo, Ilenia Marturano, Romilda Masucci, Melania Caruso, Maria Concetta Fornito, Dario Tumino, Martina Tavarelli, Sebastiano Squatrito and Gabriella Pellegriti

Summary

Struma ovarii is a rare ovarian teratoma characterized by the presence of thyroid tissue as the major component. Malignant transformation of the thyroidal component (malignant struma ovarii) has been reported in approximately 5% of struma ovarii. The management and follow-up of this unusual disease remain controversial. We report the case of a woman with a history of autoimmune thyroiditis and a previous resection of a benign struma ovarii that underwent hystero-annexiectomy for malignant struma ovarii with multiple papillary thyroid cancer foci and peritoneal involvement. Total thyroidectomy and subsequent radioiodine treatment lead to complete disease remission after 104 months of follow-up. The diagnosis and natural progression of malignant struma ovarii are difficult to discern, and relapses can occur several years after diagnosis. A multidisciplinary approach is mandatory; after surgical excision of malignant struma, thyroidectomy in combination with 131I therapy should be considered after risk stratification in accordance with a standard approach in differentiated thyroid cancer patients.

Learning points

  • Malignant struma ovarii is a rare disease; diagnosis is difficult and management is not well defined.

  • Predominant sites of metastasis are adjacent pelvic structures.

  • Thyroidectomy and 131I therapy should be considered after risk stratification in accordance with standard approaches in DTC patients.

Open access

Hiroto Minamino, Hidefumi Inaba, Hiroyuki Ariyasu, Hiroto Furuta, Masahiro Nishi, Takashi Yoshimasu, Akinori Nishikawa, Masanori Nakanishi, Shigeki Tsuchihashi, Fumiyoshi Kojima, Shin-ichi Murata, Gen Inoue and Takashi Akamizu

Summary

A 73-year-old man with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) suffered from purpura on the lower legs. He was diagnosed with IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) with serum IgG4 elevation and dacryo-sialadenitis confirmed histologically. Serum Th2 and Treg cytokines, interleukin 7 (IL7), IL8 and Th2 chemokine levels were elevated, while skewed Th1 balance was seen in fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Therefore, preferential Th1 balance in HT appeared to be followed by IgG4-RD characterized with Th2 and Treg polarization. The commencement of steroid therapy dramatically exacerbated clinical manifestations including IgG4-RD-associated HT. The measurement of cytokine and chemokine levels as well as FACS analysis in the development of IgG4-RD seemed to be beneficial. In conclusion, an innovative association of HT, IgG4-RD and vasculitis was observed. This report also offers novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for IgG4-RD.

Learning points

  • Recently, a subtype of HT has been considered to be a thyroid manifestation of IgG4-RD, although the etiology of IgG4-RD is not established yet.

  • Immunologically a close association between HT and vasculitis was reported.

  • Leukocytoclastic vasculitis is a rare skin presentation of IgG4-RD.

  • In the current case, during the course of HT, IgG4-RD and leukocytoclastic vasculitis occurred; thus, innate immunity and acquired immunity seem to be involved in the development of IgG4-RD.

  • The measurement of cytokine and chemokines appeared to be beneficial in the development of IgG4-RD.

  • Remarkably, effectiveness of steroid therapy for HT suggested presence of IgG4-RD-associated HT. Therefore, this report highlights the pathogenesis of IgG4-RD and proposes novel therapeutic mechanisms. Clinicians should pay attention to the development of IgG4-RD and vasculitis during long course of HT.

Open access

Milena S Pandrc, Stanko Petrović, Vanja Kostovski, Marijana Petrović and Miloš Zarić

Summary

Immunoglobulin (Ig)G4-related sclerosing disease (IgG4-RSD) is a new disease entity first proposed with regard to autoimmune pancreatitis. A 67-year-old male patient was examined because of weight loss and an abdominal pain. Based on the clinical characteristics, laboratory parameters and ultrasound features, we identified the diagnosis of the IgG4-related systemic disease (IgG4-RSD), that was confirmed by the histopathological analysis after the biopsy of the head of pancreas. After confirmation, we started with the corticosteroid therapy with a good clinical, biochemical and morphological response. During the previous therapy, the disturbance of glucoregulation appeared, so we had to change the modality of treatment. We decided to add Azathioprine to the therapy in a dose of 150 mg/day. We achieved a stable phase of the disease with IgG 4.37 g/l and IgG4 0.179 g/l, and with no side effects from the therapy.

Learning points

  • There are potential clinical applications of identifying subsets of patients with IgG4 thyroiditis (FVHT and Riedel thyroiditis).

  • A trial of immunosuppressive therapy should be included if a resection is deemed inadvisable.

  • In particular, cases of FVHT that mimic malignancy, tissue and serum IgG4 may provide supportive diagnostic information.

Open access

Wann Jia Loh, Kesavan Sittampalam, Suan Cheng Tan and Manju Chandran

Summary

Erdheim–Chester disease (ECD) is a potentially fatal condition characterized by infiltration of multiple organs by non-Langerhans histiocytes. Although endocrine dysfunction has been reported in association with ECD, to date, there have been no previous reports of empty sella syndrome (ESS) associated with it. We report the case of a patient with ECD who had symptomatic ESS. A 55-year-old man of Chinese ethnicity initially presented with symptoms of heart failure, fatigue and knee joint pain. Physical examination revealed xanthelasma, gynaecomastia, lung crepitations, hepatomegaly and diminished testicular volumes. He had laboratory evidence of hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism, secondary hypoadrenalism and GH deficiency. Imaging studies showed diffuse osteosclerosis of the long bones on X-ray, a mass in the right atrium and thickening of the pleura and of the thoracic aorta on fusion positron emission tomography–computed tomography. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain showed an empty sella. The diagnosis of ECD was confirmed by bone biopsy.

Learning points

  • ECD is a multisystemic disease that can affect the pituitary and other organs. The diagnosis of ECD is based on clinical and radiological features and histology, showing lipid-laden CD68+ CD1a S100 histiocytes surrounded by fibrosis.

  • The finding of xanthelasmas especially in the presence of normal lipid levels in the presence of a multisystem infiltrative disorder should raise the suspicion of ECD.

  • Systemic perturbation of autoimmunity may play a role in the pathogenesis of ECD and is an area that merits further research.