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Open access

Apostolos K A Karagiannis, Fotini Dimitropoulou, Athanasios Papatheodorou, Stavroula Lyra, Andreas Seretis and Andromachi Vryonidou

Summary

Pituitary abscess is a rare life-threating entity that is usually misdiagnosed as a pituitary tumor with a definite diagnosis only made postoperatively. Over the last several decades, advances in healthcare have led to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality due to pituitary abscess. We report a case of a 34-year-old woman who was admitted to our department for investigation of a pituitary mass and with symptoms of pituitary dysfunction, headaches and impaired vision. During her admission, she developed meningitis-like symptoms and was treated with antibiotics. She eventually underwent transsphenoidal surgery for excision of the pituitary mass. A significant amount of pus was evident intraoperatively; however, no pathogen was isolated. Six months later, the patient was well and had full recovery of the anterior pituitary function. Her menses returned, and she was only on treatment with desmopressin for diabetes insipidus that developed postoperatively.

Learning points

  • Pituitary abscess is a rare disease and the reported clinical features vary mimicking other pituitary lesions.

  • The diagnosis of pituitary abscess is often very difficult to make and rarely included in the differential.

  • The histological findings of acute inflammatory infiltration confirm the diagnosis of pituitary abscess.

  • Medical and surgical treatment is usually recommended upon diagnosis of a pituitary abscess.

Open access

Alessandro Mantovani, Maddalena Trombetta, Chiara Imbriaco, Riccardo Rigolon, Lucia Mingolla, Federica Zamboni, Francesca Dal Molin, Dario Cioccoloni, Viola Sanga, Massimiliano Bruti, Enrico Brocco, Michela Conti, Giorgio Ravenna, Fabrizia Perrone, Vincenzo Stoico and Enzo Bonora

Summary

Vertebral osteomyelitis (or spondylodiscitis) is steadily increasing in Western countries and often results from hematogenous seeding, direct inoculation during spinal surgery, or contiguous spread from an infection in the adjacent soft tissue. We present the case of a 67-year-old white patient with type 2 diabetes who went to Hospital for high fever, back pain, and worsening of known infected ulcers in the left foot. Despite intravenous antibiotic treatment and surgical debridement of the foot infection, high fever and lower back pain continued. Bone biopsy and two consecutive blood cultures were positive for Staphylococcus aureus. A spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed, revealing serious osteomyelitis in L4 and L5 complicated by an epidural abscess. Contiguous or other distant focuses of infection were not identified. In this case, diabetic foot could be considered as a primary distant focus for vertebral osteomyelitis. Clinicians should consider vertebral osteomyelitis as a ‘possible’ diagnosis in patients with type 2 diabetes complicated by foot infection that is associated with fever and lower back pain.

Learning points

  • Vertebral osteomyelitis is increasing in Western countries, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  • The primary focus of infection is the genitourinary tract followed by skin, soft tissue, endocarditis, bursitis, septic arthritis, and intravascular access.

  • Diabetic foot could be a rare primary focus of infection for vertebral osteomyelitis, and, however, vertebral osteomyelitis could be a serious, albeit rare, complication of diabetic foot.

  • Clinicians should keep in mind the many potential complications of diabetic foot ulcerations and consider vertebral osteomyelitis as a “possible” diagnosis in patients with type 2 diabetes and foot ulcers associated with nonspecific symptoms such as lower back pain.

  • Early diagnosis and correct management of vertebral osteomyelitis are crucial to improve clinical outcomes.

Open access

Durgesh Gowda, Vasant Shenoy, Usman Malabu, Donald Cameron and Kunwarjit Sangla

Summary

Our patient had drainage of a large amoebic liver abscess. This got complicated by a severe degree of hypotension, which required aggressive fluid resuscitation and hydrocortisone support. Computerised tomography (CT) of the abdomen revealed bilateral adrenal gland haemorrhage (BAH) resulting in primary adrenal gland failure, which was the cause for hypotension. Patient was on long-term warfarin for provoked deep vein thrombosis of lower limb, which was discontinued before the procedure. Thrombophilia profile indicated the presence of lupus anticoagulant factor with prolonged activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT). Patient was discharged on lifelong warfarin. This case emphasises the need for strong clinical suspicion for diagnosing BAH, rare but life-threatening condition, and its association with amoebic liver abscess and anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome (APLS).

Learning points

  • Recognition of BAH as a rare complication of sepsis.

  • APLS can rarely cause BAH.

Open access

Despoina Manousaki, Cheri Deal, Jean Jacques De Bruycker, Philippe Ovetchkine, Claude Mercier and Nathalie Alos

Summary

Cystic sellar lesions are a rare cause of hypopituitarism and extremely rare in the pediatric age group. The differential diagnosis is large and includes both primary pituitary abscesses and cystic components on pre-existing lesions, such as adenoma, craniopharyngioma, Rathke's cleft cyst, leukemia, granulomatous disease and lymphocytic hypophysitis. In the absence of a definitive diagnosis, treatment can be challenging. We report a case of a 15-year-old female, who presented with headaches, altered consciousness and diplopia after a molar extraction, for which she had received oral antibiotics. Broad-spectrum i.v. antibiotics were given for presumed meningitis. Blood cultures failed to identify pathogens. Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging showed a pituitary cystic lesion. Endocrine studies revealed abnormal pituitary function. In the absence of a therapeutic response, the patient underwent a transsphenoidal biopsy of the pituitary gland, which yielded a purulent liquid, but cultures were negative. Histopathology showed lymphocytic infiltrates but no neutrophils, compatible with an inflammation of autoimmune or infectious origin. High-dose glucocorticoid therapy was started and pursued, along with i.v. antibiotics, for 6 weeks, leading to clinical and radiological improvement but with persistence of endocrine deficits. In conclusion, this is a case of secondary panhypopituitarism due to a cystic pituitary lesion, with a differential diagnosis of lymphocytic hypophysitis vs abscess in a context of decapitated meningitis. Combination therapy with antibiotics and glucocorticoids is a legitimate approach in the face of diagnostic uncertainty, given the morbidity, and even mortality, associated with these lesions.

Learning points

  • It is not always easy to differentiate primary cystic sellar lesions (such as a primary infectious pituitary abscess) from cystic components on pre-existing lesions (such as adenoma, craniopharyngioma, Rathke's cleft cyst, leukemia or lymphocytic hypophysitis).

  • Because of the absence of specific symptoms and of immunohistochemical and serum markers, response to glucocorticoids can be the only way to differentiate lymphocytic hypophysitis from pituitary lesions of another origin. In addition, microbiological cultures are negative in 50% of cases of primary infectious sellar abscesses, thus the response to antibiotic treatment is often the key element to this diagnosis.

  • A short course of high-dose glucocorticoids combined with antibiotics is not harmful in cases where there is no diagnostic certainty as to the origin of a cystic sellar mass, given the morbidity and mortality associated with these lesions.

  • This approach may also diminish inflammation of either infectious or autoimmune origin while ensuring that the most likely pathogens are being targeted.