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Open access

Dinesh Giri, Prashant Patil, Rachel Hart, Mohammed Didi and Senthil Senniappan

Summary

Poland syndrome (PS) is a rare congenital condition, affecting 1 in 30 000 live births worldwide, characterised by a unilateral absence of the sternal head of the pectoralis major and ipsilateral symbrachydactyly occasionally associated with abnormalities of musculoskeletal structures. A baby girl, born at 40 weeks’ gestation with birth weight of 3.33 kg (−0.55 SDS) had typical phenotypical features of PS. She had recurrent hypoglycaemic episodes early in life requiring high concentration of glucose and glucagon infusion. The diagnosis of congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) was biochemically confirmed by inappropriately high plasma concentrations of insulin and C-peptide and low plasma free fatty acids and β-hydroxyl butyrate concentrations during hypoglycaemia. Sequencing of ABCC8, KCNJ11 and HNF4A did not show any pathogenic mutation. Microarray analysis revealed a novel duplication in the short arm of chromosome 10 at 10p13–14 region. This is the first reported case of CHI in association with PS and 10p duplication. We hypothesise that the HK1 located on the chromosome 10 encoding hexokinase-1 is possibly linked to the pathophysiology of CHI.

Learning points:

  • Congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) is known to be associated with various syndromes.

  • This is the first reported association of CHI and Poland syndrome (PS) with duplication in 10p13–14.

  • A potential underlying genetic link between 10p13–14 duplication, PS and CHI is a possibility.

Open access

Chun-Han Lo and Ding-Ping Sun

Summary

Insulinomas are the most common cause of hypoglycemia resulting from endogenous hyperinsulinism. Traditionally, inappropriately elevated levels of insulin in the face of hypoglycemia are the key to diagnosis. However, contradictory levels of insulin and C-peptide do not necessarily exclude the diagnosis. A 50-year-old female was brought to our emergency department because of conscious disturbance on the previous night. She had no history of diabetes mellitus, and was not using any medications or alcohol. Laboratory data showed low sugar, a significantly low insulin level, and elevated C-peptide. After admission, she had multiple episodes of spontaneous hypoglycemia after overnight fasts without discomfort. It was considered that a neuroendocrine tumor was the source of her hypoglycemia. CT scan of the abdomen revealed a 1.1cm hypervascular nodule in the pancreatic tail. Elective laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy was incorporated into her treatment course. A 1.2×1.0cm homogenous well-encapsulated tumor was resected. We monitored her glucose levels in the outpatient clinic every month for a period of six months. She did not have another episode of spontaneous hypoglycemia.

Learning points

  • Insulinoma causes endogenous hypoglycemia – it cannot be ruled out in patients presenting with hypoglycemia and low insulin levels; history and imaging studies should be done for further assessment

  • A 24-h fast test has the same clinical significance as that of 72-h fast test

  • C-peptide is a useful biochemical marker in addition to serum insulin, which can be used to diagnose insulinomas

  • CT scan is used to measure the tumor size and localize the tumor. However, definitive diagnosis is only achieved through histopathologic evaluation of diseased tissue

Open access

M Nwokolo and J Fletcher

Summary

A 46-year-old woman presented multiple times in a 4-month period with hypotension, sepsis, hypoglycaemia and psychosis. A low random cortisol in combination with her presenting complaint made adrenal insufficiency the likely diagnosis. Fluid resuscitation and i.v. steroid therapy led to clinical improvement; however, a short synacthen test (SST) demonstrated an apparently satisfactory cortisol response. The test was repeated on a later admission and revealed a peak cortisol level of 25 nmol/l (>550 nmol/l). Concurrent treatment with i.v. hydrocortisone had led to a false-negative SST. ACTH was <5 ng/l (>10 ng/l), indicating secondary adrenal failure. We discuss the challenges surrounding the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency and hypopituitarism, the rare complication of psychosis and a presumptive diagnosis of autoimmune lymphocytic hypophysitis (ALH).

Learning points

  • Adrenocortical insufficiency must be considered in the shocked, hypovolaemic and hypoglycaemic patient with electrolyte imbalance. Rapid treatment with fluid resuscitation and i.v. corticosteroids is vital.

  • Polymorphic presentations to multiple specialities are common. Generalised myalgia, abdominal pain and delirium are well recognised, psychosis is rare.

  • A random cortisol can be taken with baseline bloods. Once the patient is stable, meticulous dynamic testing must follow to confirm the clinical diagnosis.

  • The chronic disease progression of ALH is hypothesised to be expansion then atrophy of the pituitary gland resulting in empty sella turcica and hypopituitarism.

  • If hypopituitarism is suspected, an ACTH deficiency should be treated prior to commencing thyroxine (T4) therapy as unopposed T4 may worsen features of cortisol deficiency.