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Open access

Tejhmal Rehman, Ali Hameed, Nigel Beharry, J Du Parcq and Gul Bano

Summary

Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (βhCG) is normally produced by syncytiotrophoblasts of the placenta during pregnancy and aids embryo implantation. However, it is also secreted in varying amounts in non-pregnant conditions commonly heralding a neoplastic process. We present a case of 50-year-old man, who presented with bilateral gynaecomastia with elevated testosterone, oestradiol, suppressed gonadotropins with progressively increasing levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Biochemical and radiological investigations including ultrasonography of testes, breast tissue, MRI pituitary and CT scan full body did not identify the source of hCG. FDG PET scan revealed a large mediastinal mass with lung metastasis. Immunostaining and histological analysis confirmed the diagnosis of primary choriocarcinoma of the mediastinum. It is highly aggressive and malignant tumor with poor prognosis. Early diagnosis and management are essential for the best outcome.

Learning points:

  • High βhCG in a male patient or a non-pregnant female suggests a paraneoplastic syndrome.
  • In the case of persistently positive serum hCG, exclude immunoassay interference by doing the urine hCG as heterophilic antibodies are not present in the urine.
  • Non-gestational choriocarcinoma is an extremely rare trophoblastic tumor and should be considered in young men presenting with gynaecomastia and high concentration of hCG with normal gonads.
  • A high index of suspicion and extensive investigations are required to establish an early diagnosis of extra-gonadal choriocarcinoma.
  • Early diagnosis is crucial to formulate optimal management strategy and to minimize widespread metastasis for best clinical outcome.
Open access

Alicia R Jones, Alan McNeil, Christopher Yates, Bala Krishnamurthy and Peter S Hamblin

Summary

A variety of neoplastic, inflammatory and congenital conditions can cause pituitary stalk thickening. Differentiating between these causes is important as targeted treatment may be offered. Diagnostic work-up consists of a thorough history, examination, biochemical analysis and imaging. We present the case of a 33-year-old male who presented with diabetes insipidus and had pituitary stalk thickening on magnetic resonance imaging. Further investigations revealed an elevated CSF βhCG, which raised the possibility of an intracranial germ cell tumor. However, when repeated on four different assays, the βhCG levels were discordant. On serial imaging, the pituitary stalk thickening reduced slightly, which would be unexpected for a germ cell tumor. This case raises the difficulties interpreting CSF βhCG, as not all immunoassays for βhCG have been validated for use in CSF. The Roche Diagnostics Elecsys and Siemens Centaur assays have been validated for CSF βhCG, and so we advocate using one of these methods. If unavailable or serum/CSF results are ambiguous, serial MRI is appropriate, with pituitary stalk biopsy considered if the stalk measures >6.5 mm or other imaging abnormalities are present.

Learning points:

  • Most adult patients with central diabetes insipidus have imaging abnormalities on a pituitary MRI. The most common abnormalities are loss of the posterior pituitary bright spot and pituitary stalk thickening, both of which are non-specific.
  • Causes of pituitary stalk thickening include neoplastic, inflammatory, infective and congenital lesions.
  • Investigation of pituitary stalk thickening should encompass the many possible causes and include biochemical analyses as well as imaging of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Further investigations should be guided by the clinical context, but may include testicular ultrasound, CSF analysis and pituitary stalk biopsy.
  • Germ cell tumors involving the pituitary stalk may be suspected on clinical grounds, but in the absence of a tissue diagnosis (biopsy) confirmation may be difficult and relies on biochemical assessment of blood and possibly CSF as well as serial MRI imaging.
  • CSF βhCG levels should be analyzed on an instrument validated for use in CSF or on multiple instruments, and the pitfalls of testing this marker (false negative in some germ cell tumors, false positives in other conditions, lack of internationally agreed reference ranges for diagnosing germ cell tumors) should be considered when interpreting the results.
Open access

Ahmed Iqbal, Peter Novodvorsky, Alexandra Lubina-Solomon, Fiona M Kew and Jonathan Webster

Summary

Secondary amenorrhoea and galactorrhoea represent a common endocrine presentation. We report a case of an oestrogen-producing juvenile granulosa cell tumour (JGCT) of the ovary in a 16-year-old post-pubertal woman with hyperprolactinaemia amenorrhoea and galactorrhoea which resolved following surgical resection of the tumour. This patient presented with a 9-month history of secondary amenorrhoea and a 2-month history of galactorrhoea. Elevated serum prolactin at 7081 mIU/l and suppressed gonadotropins (LH <0.1 U/l; FSH <0.1 U/l) were detected. Serum oestradiol was significantly elevated at 7442 pmol/l with undetectable β-human chorionic gonadotropin. MRI showed a bulky pituitary with no visible adenoma. MRI of the abdomen showed a 4.8 cm mass arising from the right ovary with no evidence of metastatic disease. Serum inhibin B was elevated at 2735 ng/l. A right salpingo-oophorectomy was performed, and histology confirmed the diagnosis of a JGCT, stage International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 1A. Immunohistochemical staining for prolactin was negative. Post-operatively, oestrogen and prolactin levels were normalised, and she subsequently had a successful pregnancy. In summary, we present a case of an oestrogen-secreting JGCT with hyperprolactinaemia manifesting clinically with galactorrhoea and secondary amenorrhoea. We postulate that observed hyperprolactinaemia was caused by oestrogenic stimulation of pituitary lactotroph cells, a biochemical state analogous to pregnancy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of hyperprolactinaemia as a result of excessive oestrogen production in the context of a JGCT.

Learning points

  • Hyperprolactinaemia with bilateral galactorrhoea and secondary amenorrhoea has a wide differential diagnosis and is not always caused by a prolactin secreting pituitary adenoma.
  • Significantly elevated serum oestradiol levels in the range seen in this case, in the absence of pregnancy, are indicative of an oestrogen-secreting tumour.
  • JGCTs are rare hormonally active ovarian neoplasms mostly secreting steroid hormones.
  • Serum inhibin can be used as a granulosa cell-specific tumour marker.
  • JGCTs have an excellent prognosis in the early stages of the disease.

Open access

Roghieh Molaei Langroudi, Fatemeh Ghazanfari Amlashi and Mohammad Hassan Hedayati Emami

Summary

Background: Spontaneous ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (sOHSS) can occur following hypothyroidism. Ultrasonography facilitates diagnosis and monitoring of this syndrome. We describe ovarian sonographic changes in a hypothyroid patient with sOHSS after treatment with levothyroxine (l-T4).

Case presentation: A 15-year-old girl presented with abdominal pain and distension for a few months. On examination, she had classical features of hypothyroidism. Abdominal and pelvic ultrasound revealed enlarged ovaries with multiple thin-walled cysts and mild ascitic fluid. On follow-up, abdominal ultrasound showed significant reduction of ovary size after 6 weeks of initiation of l-T4. Normal ovary size with complete regression of ovarian cysts was seen after 4 months.

Conclusion: Serial ultrasound in sOHSS associated with hypothyroidism showed regression of ovarian cysts and ovarian volume after 4 months whereas in other studies, it is reported to happen in various durations, presumably according to its etiology.

Learning points

  • OHSS can rarely occur due to hypothyroidism.
  • This type of OHSS can be simply treated by l-T4 replacement, rather than conservative management or surgery in severe cases.
  • Ultrasound follow-up shows significant regression of ovarian size and cysts within 6 weeks of initiation of l-T4.
  • Ultrasound follow-up shows normal ovarian size with complete resolution of ovarian cysts 4 months after treatment.