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Open access

Yew Wen Yap, Steve Ball and Zubair Qureshi

Summary

The coexistence of primary hypothyroidism and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-stimulating pituitary macroadenoma can be a rare occurrence and can make diagnosis very challenging. We describe a case of a 44-year-old female with a history of fatigue, poor concentration, weight gain and amenorrhoea together with biochemical evidence of primary autoimmune hypothyroidism. Her initial TSH levels were elevated with low normal free thyroxine (T4) levels. Levothyroxine treatment was initiated and the dose was gradually titrated to supraphysiologic doses. This led to the normalisation of her TSH levels but her free T4 and triiodothyronine (T3) levels remained persistently elevated. This prompted a serum prolactin check which returned elevated at 2495 µ/L, leading onto pituitary imaging. A MRI of the pituitary gland revealed a pituitary macroadenoma measuring 2.4 × 2 × 1.6 cm. Despite starting her on cabergoline therapy with a reduction in her prolactin levels, her TSH levels began to rise even further. Additional thyroid assays revealed that she had an abnormally elevated alpha subunit at 3.95 (age-related reference range <3.00). This corresponded to a thyroid-secreting hormone pituitary macroadenoma. She went on to have a transphenoidal hypophysectomy. Histology revealed tissues staining for TSH, confirming this to be a TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma. This case highlighted the importance of further investigations with thyroid assay interferences, heterophile antibodies, alpha subunit testing and anterior pituitary profile in cases of resistant and non-resolving primary hypothyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Levothyroxine treatment in primary hypothyroidism can potentially unmask the presence of a latent TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma, which can make diagnosis very challenging.

  • A high index of suspicion should prompt clinicians to further investigate cases of primary hypothyroidism which despite increasing doses of levothyroxine treatment with normalisation of TSH, the free T4 and T3 levels remain persistently elevated.

  • Clinicians should consider investigating for adherence to levothyroxine, thyroid assay interference, heterophile antibodies, TSH dilution studies, alpha subunit and anterior pituitary profile testing to further clarity the diagnosis in these patients.

  • Although coexistent cases of TSHoma with primary hypothyroidism are rare, it should always be in the list of differential diagnoses in cases of unresolving primary hypothyroidism.

Open access

Ramez Ibrahim, Atul Kalhan, Alistair Lammie, Christine Kotonya, Ravindra Nannapanenni and Aled Rees

Summary

A 30-year-old female presented with a history of secondary amenorrhoea, acromegalic features and progressive visual deterioration. She had elevated serum IGF1 levels and unsuppressed GH levels after an oral glucose tolerance test. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a heterogeneously enhancing space-occupying lesion with atypical extensive calcification within the sellar and suprasellar areas. Owing to the extent of calcification, the tumour was a surgical challenge. Postoperatively, there was clinical, radiological and biochemical evidence of residual disease, which required treatment with a somatostatin analogue and radiotherapy. Mutational analysis of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene was negative. This case confirms the relatively rare occurrence of calcification within a pituitary macroadenoma and its associated management problems. The presentation, biochemical, radiological and pathological findings are discussed in the context of the relevant literature.

Learning points

  • Calcification of pituitary tumours is relatively rare.

  • Recognising calcification in pituitary adenomas on preoperative imaging is important in surgical decision-making.

  • Gross total resection can be difficult to achieve in the presence of extensive calcification and dictates further management and follow-up to achieve disease control.