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Open access

Huilin Koh, Manish Kaushik, Julian Kenrick Loh and Chiaw Ling Chng

Summary

Thyroid storm with multi-organ failure limits the use of conventional treatment. A 44-year-old male presented with thyroid storm and experienced cardiovascular collapse after beta-blocker administration, with resultant fulminant multi-organ failure requiring inotropic support, mechanical ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and continuous renal replacement therapy. Hepatic and renal failure precluded the use of conventional thyroid storm treatment and early plasma exchange was instituted. The patient underwent emergency thyroidectomy after four effective exchanges, with subsequent rapid reversal of multi-organ failure. The challenges of institution of plasma exchanges with ongoing ECMO support, dialysis and timing of thyroidectomy are discussed. This case highlights the important role of early therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) as an effective salvage therapy for lowering circulating hormones and stabilization of patients in preparation for emergency thyroidectomy in patients with thyroid storm and fulminant multi-organ failure.

Learning points:

  • Administration of beta-blockers in thyroid storm presenting with congestive cardiac failure may precipitate cardiovascular collapse due to inhibition of thyroid-induced hyperadrenergic compensation which maintains cardiac output.

  • TPE can be an effective bridging therapy to emergency total thyroidectomy when conventional thyroid storm treatment is contraindicated.

  • End-organ support using ECMO and CRRT can be combined with TPE effectively in the management of critically ill cases of thyroid storm.

  • The effectiveness of plasma exchange in lowering thyroid hormones appears to wane after 44–48 h of therapy in this case, highlighting the importance early thyroidectomy.

Open access

Takatoshi Anno, Hideaki Kaneto, Ryo Shigemoto, Fumiko Kawasaki, Yasuhiro Kawai, Noriyo Urata, Hirofumi Kawamoto, Kohei Kaku and Niro Okimoto

Summary

Hypoglycemia is induced by many causes, especially over-dose of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetic subjects. In such a case, hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia is usually observed. On the other hand, it is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in clinical practice. Herein, we experienced similar 2 cases of non-diabetic hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Both of them were elderly subjects with low body weight. Furthermore, it is likely that hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia in both subjects was triggered by severe liver injury, at least in part, due to possible limited liver glycogen store. In elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, metabolism in the liver is reduced and glycogen accumulation is decreased. Such alteration brings out acute and marked liver injury, which finally leads to the onset of severe hypoglycemia. It is known that not only liver injury but also multiple organ failure could be induced due to extreme emaciation in subjects. It is likely that in elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, multiple organ failure including liver failure could be induced due to the similar reason. Therefore, we should be very careful of such subjects in order to avoid the development of multiple organ failure which leads to life-threatening situations. In conclusion, we should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly or starving subjects with low body weight and limited liver glycogen stores.

Learning points:

  • It is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia.

  • Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in everyday clinical practice.

  • Herein, we reported similar 2 cases of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia without diabetes presumably triggered by severe liver injury.

  • In both cases, hypoglycemia was improved by glucose infusion, although their liver injury was not improved.

  • We should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly subjects with low body weight.

Open access

Asma Deeb, Faisal Al-Zidgali and Bibian N Ofoegbu

Summary

Wolcott–Rallison syndrome (WRS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder due to mutations in the EIF2AK3 gene. It is characterized by permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus, skeletal dysplasia, liver impairment, neutropenia and renal dysfunction. Liver is the most commonly affected organ and liver failure is the commonest cause of death in this syndrome. The EIF2AK3 gene encodes a transmembrane protein PERK, which is important for the cellular response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. The absence of PERK activity reduces the ER’s abilities to deal with stress, leading to cell death by apoptosis. On acquiring febrile illness, affected patients suffer from liver injury, which may progress into liver failure and death. Renal involvement is less common and is mainly in the form of functional renal impairment at the advanced stage of the disease. Structural renal anomalies have not been reported in WRS. We report a 6-month-old girl who presented with neonatal diabetes on day 1 of life. Her genetic testing confirmed WRS due to missense mutation in the EIF2AK3 gene (c.2867G > A, p.Gly956Glu). Parents are first-degree cousins and both are heterozygous carriers to the mutation. 2 paternal uncles had the same mutation and died of liver disease at 1 and 14 years of age. Neither had a renal disease. She presented with hematuria during a febrile illness at the age of 5 months. Ultrasound scan showed right ectopic multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first patient with WRS who is reported to have an MCDK disease.

Learning points:

  • Neonatal diabetes should be considered in babies presenting with early hyperglycemia particularly if there is a family history.

  • Genetic diagnosis in neonatal diabetes enables disease confirmation, genetic counseling and anticipation of potential complications during concomitant situations such as acute illness, trauma or major surgery.

  • There is lack of phenotype–genotype correlation in Wolcott–Rallison syndrome.

  • Structural kidney abnormality, in our case MCDK, can be seen in WRS.

Open access

Peter Taylor, Sasan Dehbozorgi, Arshiya Tabasum, Anna Scholz, Harsh Bhatt, Philippa Stewart, Pranav Kumar, Mohd S Draman, Alastair Watt, Aled Rees, Caroline Hayhurst and Stephen Davies

Summary

Hyponatraemia is the most commonly encountered electrolyte disturbance in neurological high dependency and intensive care units. Cerebral salt wasting (CSW) is the most elusive and challenging of the causes of hyponatraemia, and it is vital to distinguish it from the more familiar syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH). Managing CSW requires correction of the intravascular volume depletion and hyponatraemia, as well as mitigation of on-going substantial sodium losses. Herein we describe a challenging case of CSW requiring large doses of hypertonic saline and the subsequent substantial benefit with the addition of fludrocortisone.

Learning points:

  • The diagnosis of CSW requires a high index of suspicion. Distinguishing it from SIADH is essential to enable prompt treatment in order to prevent severe hyponatraemia.

  • The hallmarks of substantial CSW are hyponatraemia, reduced volume status and inappropriately high renal sodium loss.

  • Substantial volumes of hypertonic saline may be required for a prolonged period of time to correct volume and sodium deficits.

  • Fludrocortisone has a role in the management of CSW. It likely reduces the doses of hypertonic saline required and can maintain serum sodium levels of hypertonic saline.

Open access

Han Soo Park, Su Kyoung Kwon and Ye Na Kim

Summary

Thyroid storm is a rare and potentially life-threatening medical emergency. We experienced a case of thyroid storm associated with sepsis caused by pneumonia, which had a catastrophic course including recurrent cardiac arrest and subsequent multiple organ failure (MOF). A 22-year-old female patient with a 10-year history of Graves’ disease was transferred to our emergency department (ED). She had a cardiac arrest at her home and a second cardiac arrest at the ED. Her heart recovered after 20 min of cardiac resuscitation. She was diagnosed with thyroid storm associated with hyperthyroidism complicated by pneumonia and sepsis. Although full conventional medical treatment was given, she had progressive MOF and hemodynamic instability consisting of hyperthermia, tachycardia and hypotension. Because of hepatic and renal failure with refractory hypotension, we reduced the patient’s dose of beta-blocker and antithyroid drug, and she was started on continuous veno-venous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) with intravenous albumin and plasma supplementation. Subsequently, her body temperature and pulse rate began to stabilize within 1 h, and her blood pressure reached 120/60 mmHg after 6 h. We discontinued antithyroid drug 3 days after admission because of aggravated hyperbilirubinemia. The patient exhibited progressive improvement in thyroid function even after cessation of antithyroid drug, and she successfully recovered from thyroid storm and MOF. This is the first case of thyroid storm successfully treated by CRRT in a patient considered unfit for antithyroid drug treatment.

Learning points:

  • The presenting manifestations of thyroid storm vary and can include cardiac arrest with multiorgan failure in rare cases.

  • In some patients with thyroid storm, especially those with severe complications, conventional medical treatment may be ineffective or inappropriate.

  • During thyroid storm, the initiation of CRRT can immediately lower body temperature and subsequently stabilize vital signs.

  • Early initiation of CRRT can be life-saving in patients with thyroid storm complicated by MOF, even when used in combination with suboptimal medical treatment.

Open access

Nicola Tufton, Nazhri Hashim, Candy Sze and Mona Waterhouse

Summary

A 57-year-old female presented 17 days after treatment with radioactive iodine (RAI) for difficult-to-control hyperthyroidism. She was febrile, had a sinus tachycardia, and was clinically thyrotoxic. Her thyroid function tests showed a suppressed TSH <0.02 mU/l, with free thyroxine (FT4) >75 pmol/l and total triiodothyronine (TT3) 6.0 nmol/l. She was diagnosed with thyroid storm and was managed with i.v. fluids, propylthiouracil (PTU) 200 mg four times a day, prednisolone 30 mg once daily and propanolol 10 mg three times a day. She gradually improved over 2 weeks and was discharged home on PTU with β blockade. On clinic review 10 days later, it was noted that, although she was starting to feel better, she had grossly abnormal liver function (alanine transaminase (ALT) 852 U/l, bilirubin 46 μmol/l, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) 303 U/l, international normalized ratio (INR) 0.9, platelets 195×109/l). She was still mildly thyrotoxic (TSH <0.02 mU/l, FT4 31 pmol/l, TT3 1.3 nmol/l). She was diagnosed with acute hepatitis secondary to treatment with PTU. Ultrasound showed mild hepatic steatosis. PTU was stopped and she was managed with fluids and prednisolone 60 mg once daily and continued β blockade. Her liver function gradually improved over 10 days (bilirubin 9 μmol/l, ALT 164 U/l, ALP 195 U/l, INR 0.9, platelets 323×109/l) with conservative management and had normalised by clinic review 3 weeks later. This case highlights the potentially fatal, but rare, complications associated with both RAI and PTU, namely, thyroid storm and acute hepatitis respectively.

Learning points

  • Thyroid storm is an important, albeit rare, endocrinological emergency.

  • Thyroid storm following RAI treatment is extremely rare.

  • Management is with i.v. fluids, β blockade, anti-thyroid drugs and steroids.

  • High dose glucocorticoid steroids can block the peripheral conversion of T4 to active T3.

  • Liver dysfunction, acute hepatitis and potential hepatic failure are significant adverse drug reactions known to occur with PTU treatment. Supervising clinicians should be vigilant for evidence of this developing and intervene accordingly.

  • Clinicians need to be aware of possible interactions between regular paracetamol use and PTU in predisposing to liver impairment.