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Open access

Ilse C A Bakker, Chris D Schubart and Pierre M J Zelissen

Summary

In this report, we describe a female patient with both prolactinoma and psychotic disorder who was successfully treated with aripiprazole, a partial dopamine 2 receptor agonist. During the follow-up of more than 10 years, her psychotic symptoms improved considerably, prolactin levels normalised and the size of the prolactinoma decreased. This observation may be of clinical relevance in similar patients who often are difficult to treat with the regular dopaminergic drugs.

Learning points

  • Prolactinoma coinciding with psychosis can represent a therapeutic challenge.

  • In contrast to many other antipsychotic drugs, aripiprazole is associated with a decrease in prolactin levels.

  • Aripiprazole can be a valuable pharmaceutical tool to treat both prolactinoma and psychosis.

Open access

Lisa Burback

Summary

A previously healthy 32-year-old woman developed cyclical mood swings after being prescribed cabergoline for a pituitary microprolactinoma. These mood swings persisted for over 2 years, at which point she developed an acute manic episode with psychotic features and was admitted to a psychiatry unit. Cabergoline was discontinued and replaced with aripiprazole 10 mg/day. Her manic episode quickly resolved, and she was discharged within 6 days of admission. The aripiprazole suppressed her prolactin levels for over 18 months of follow-up, even after the dose was lowered to 2 mg/day. There was no significant change in tumor size over 15 months, treatment was well tolerated. However, after 9 months of taking 2 mg aripiprazole, she developed brief manic symptoms, and the dose was returned to 10 mg daily, with good effect.

Learning points

  • Dopamine agonists such as cabergoline, which are a standard treatment for microprolactinomas, can have serious adverse effects such as psychosis or valvular heart disease.

  • Aripiprazole is a well-tolerated atypical antipsychotic that, unlike other antipsychotics, is a partial dopamine agonist capable of suppressing prolactin levels.

  • Adjunctive, low-dose aripiprazole has been utilized to reverse risperidone-induced hyperprolactinemia.

  • This case report demonstrates how aripiprazole monotherapy, in doses ranging from 2 to 10 mg/day, was effective in suppressing prolactin in a woman with a microprolactinoma who developed psychiatric side effects from cabergoline.

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.