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Open access

Carlos Tavares Bello, Emma van der Poest Clement and Richard Feelders

Summary

Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disease that results from prolonged exposure to supraphysiological levels of glucocorticoids. Severe and rapidly progressive cases are often, but not exclusively, attributable to ectopic ACTH secretion. Extreme hypercortisolism usually has florid metabolic consequences and is associated with an increased infectious and thrombotic risk. The authors report on a case of a 51-year-old male that presented with severe Cushing’s syndrome secondary to an ACTH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma, whose diagnostic workup was affected by concurrent subclinical multifocal pulmonary infectious nodules. The case is noteworthy for the atypically severe presentation of Cushing’s disease, and it should remind the clinician of the possible infectious and thrombotic complications associated with Cushing’s syndrome.

Learning points:

  • Severe Cushing’s syndrome is not always caused by ectopic ACTH secretion.
  • Hypercortisolism is a state of immunosuppression, being associated with an increased risk for opportunistic infections.
  • Infectious pulmonary infiltrates may lead to imaging diagnostic dilemmas when investigating a suspected ectopic ACTH secretion.
  • Cushing’s syndrome carries an increased thromboembolic risk that may even persist after successful surgical management.
  • Antibiotic and venous thromboembolism prophylaxis should be considered in every patient with severe Cushing’s syndrome.
Open access

Durgesh Prasad Chaudhary, Tshristi Rijal, Kunal Kishor Jha and Harpreet Saluja

Summary

Combined pituitary hormonal deficiency (CPHD) is a rare disease that results from mutations in genes coding for transcription factors that regulate the differentiation of pituitary cells. PROP1 gene mutations are one of the etiological diagnoses of congenital panhypopituitarism, however symptoms vary depending on phenotypic expression. We present a case of psychosis in a 36-year-old female with congenital panhypopituitarism who presented with paranoia, flat affect and ideas of reference without a delirious mental state, which resolved with hormone replacement and antipsychotics. Further evaluation revealed that she had a homozygous mutation of PROP1 gene. In summary, compliance with hormonal therapy for patients with hypopituitarism appears to be effective for the prevention and treatment of acute psychosis symptoms.

Learning points:

  • Patients with PROP1 gene mutation may present with psychosis with no impairment in orientation and memory.
  • There is currently inadequate literature on this topic, and further study on the possible mechanisms of psychosis as a result of endocrine disturbance is required.
  • Compliance with hormonal therapy for patients with hypopituitarism appears to be effective for prevention and treatment of acute psychosis symptoms.
Open access

Victoria John, Philip Evans and Atul Kalhan

Summary

A 65-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency unit with a 48 h history of generalised weakness and confusion. On examination, she had mild slurring of speech although there was no other focal neurological deficit. She had profound hyponatraemia (serum sodium level of 100 mmol/L) on admission with the rest of her metabolic parameters being within normal range. Subsequent investigations confirmed the diagnosis of small-cell lung cancer with paraneoplastic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD). She was monitored closely in high-dependency unit with an attempt to cautiously correct her hyponatraemia to prevent sequelae associated with rapid correction. The patient developed prolonged psychosis (lasting over 2 weeks) and displayed delayed dyskinetic movements, even after a gradual increase in serum sodium levels close to 130 mmol/L. To our knowledge, delayed neurological recovery from profound hyponatraemia (without long-term neurological sequelae) has previously not been reported. This case should alert a clinician regarding the possibility of prolonged although reversible psychosis and dyskinetic movements in a patient presenting with profound symptomatic hyponatraemia.

Learning points:

  • Patients with profound hyponatraemia may develop altered sensorium, dyskinesia and psychotic behaviour.
  • Full recovery from psychotic symptoms and dyskinesia may be delayed despite cautious correction of serum sodium levels.
  • Careful and close monitoring of such patients can help avoid long-term neurological sequelae.
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

Maura Bucciarelli, Ya-Yu Lee and Vasudev Magaji

Summary

Ectopic ACTH secretion from breast cancer is extremely rare. We report a case of a 30-year-old woman with a history of breast cancer, who presented with psychosis and paranoid behaviour. CT of the head showed white matter disease consistent with posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES). Despite using mifepristone with multiple antihypertensives including lisinopril, spironolactone and metoprolol, she was hypertensive. Transaminitis did not allow mifepristone dose escalation and ketoconazole utilization. Etomidate infusion at a non-sedating dose in the intensive care unit controlled her hypertension and cortisol levels. She was transitioned to metyrapone and spironolactone. She was discharged from the hospital on metyrapone with spironolactone and underwent chemotherapy. She died 9 months later after she rapidly redeveloped Cushing's syndrome and had progressive metastatic breast cancer involving multiple bones, liver and lungs causing respiratory failure.

Learning points

  • Cushing's syndrome from ectopic ACTH secreting breast cancer is extremely rare.
  • Cushing's syndrome causing psychosis could be multifactorial including hypercortisolism and PRES.
  • Etomidate at non-sedating doses in intensive care setting can be effective to reduce cortisol production followed by transition to oral metyrapone.

Open access

V Larouche, L Snell and D V Morris

Summary

Myxoedema madness was first described as a consequence of severe hypothyroidism in 1949. Most cases were secondary to long-standing untreated primary hypothyroidism. We present the first reported case of iatrogenic myxoedema madness following radioactive iodine ablation for Graves' disease, with a second concurrent diagnosis of primary hyperaldosteronism. A 29-year-old woman presented with severe hypothyroidism, a 1-week history of psychotic behaviour and paranoid delusions 3 months after treatment with radioactive iodine ablation for Graves' disease. Her psychiatric symptoms abated with levothyroxine replacement. She was concurrently found to be hypertensive and hypokalemic. Primary hyperaldosteronism from bilateral adrenal hyperplasia was diagnosed. This case report serves as a reminder that myxoedema madness can be a complication of acute hypothyroidism following radioactive iodine ablation of Graves' disease and that primary hyperaldosteronism may be associated with autoimmune hyperthyroidism.

Learning points

  • Psychosis (myxoedema madness) can present as a neuropsychiatric manifestation of acute hypothyroidism following radioactive iodine ablation of Graves' disease.
  • Primary hyperaldosteronism may be caused by idiopathic bilateral adrenal hyperplasia even in the presence of an adrenal adenoma seen on imaging.
  • Adrenal vein sampling is a useful tool for differentiating between a unilateral aldosterone-producing adenoma, which is managed surgically, and an idiopathic bilateral adrenal hyperplasia, which is managed medically.
  • The management of autoimmune hyperthyroidism, iatrogenic hypothyroidism and primary hyperaldosteronism from bilateral idiopathic adrenal hyperplasia in patients planning pregnancy includes delaying pregnancy 6 months following radioactive iodine treatment and until patient is euthyroid for 3 months, using amiloride as opposed to spironolactone, controlling blood pressure with agents safe in pregnancy such as nifedipine and avoiding β blockers.
  • Autoimmune hyperthyroidism and primary hyperaldosteronism rarely coexist; any underlying mechanism associating the two is still unclear.

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.