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Open access

Chloe Broughton, Jane Mears, Adam Williams and Kathryn Lonnen

Summary

Pituitary adenomas can be classified as functioning or non-functioning adenomas. Approximately 64% of clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas are found to be gonadotroph adenomas on immunohistochemistry. There are reported cases of gonadotroph adenomas causing clinical symptoms, but this is unusual. We present the case of a 36-year-old female with abdominal pain. Multiple large ovarian cysts were identified on ultrasound requiring bilateral cystectomy. Despite this, the cysts recurred resulting in further abdominal pain, ovarian torsion and right oophorectomy and salpingectomy. On her 3rd admission with abdominal pain, she was found to have a rectus sheath mass which was resected and histologically confirmed to be fibromatosis. Endocrine investigations revealed elevated oestradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) at the upper limit of the normal range and a suppressed luteinising hormone (LH). Prolactin was mildly elevated. A diagnosis of an FSH-secreting pituitary adenoma was considered and a pituitary MRI revealed a 1.5 cm macroadenoma. She underwent transphenoidal surgery which led to resolution of her symptoms and normalisation of her biochemistry. Subsequent pelvic ultrasound showed normal ovarian follicular development. Clinically functioning gonadotroph adenomas are rare, but should be considered in women presenting with menstrual irregularities, large or recurrent ovarian cysts, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and fibromatosis. Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment with the aim of achieving complete remission.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary gonadotroph adenomas are usually clinically non-functioning, but in rare cases can cause clinical symptoms.

  • A diagnosis of a functioning gonadotroph adenoma should be considered in women presenting with un-explained ovarian hyperstimulation and/or fibromatosis.

  • In women with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, the main biochemical finding is elevated oestradiol levels. Serum FSH levels can be normal or mildly elevated. Serum LH levels are usually suppressed.

  • Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment for patients with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, with the aim of achieving complete remission.

Open access

E Bahaeldein and M J Brassill

Summary

Postmenopausal hyperandrogenism is a relatively rare diagnosis resulting from excess androgen production from the adrenals or ovaries. The exclusion of malignant causes is a priority. Laboratory tests and imaging are utilised to help differentiate the source of excess androgens. We report two cases of postmenopausal hyperandrogenism in women aged 75 and 67 years. Both cases presented with clinical features suggestive of hyperandrogenism which had developed gradually over the previous 2 years. Laboratory investigations confirmed a significant elevation in their serum testosterone levels. In both cases, imaging did not reveal any abnormality of the adrenals or ovaries. To help differentiate an adrenal vs ovarian source a single-dose GnRH analogue was given with measurement of testosterone and gonadotrophin levels pre and post. The reduction in gonadotrophins achieved by the GnRH analogue resulted in suppression of testosterone levels which suggested an ovarian source. Both patients proceeded to bilateral oophorectomy. Histology revealed a benign hilus cell tumour in one case and a benign Leydig cell tumour in the other.

Learning points:

  • A key part of the work-up of postmenopausal hyperandrogenism is to differentiate between an adrenal or an ovarian source of excess androgens;

  • Imaging may not identify small ovarian tumours or hyperthecosis and may also identify incidental adrenal masses which are non-functioning;

  • Current guidelines suggest ovarian and adrenal venous sampling when imaging is inconclusive but this requires technical expertise and has a high failure rate;

  • GnRH analogue use can successfully confirm ovarian source and should be considered as a diagnostic tool in this setting.

Open access

Ana Marina Moreira and Poli Mara Spritzer

Summary

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the condition of intermittent or permanent gonadal insufficiency that occurs in women before the age of 40. We describe three cases of POI referred to the outpatient endocrinology clinic of a university hospital. The three patients met diagnostic criteria for POI and were managed by specific approaches tailored to individualized goals. In the first case, the main concern was fertility and the reproductive prognosis. The second patient was a carrier of a common genetic cause of POI: premutation of the FMR1 gene. The third case was a patient diagnosed with a POI and established osteoporosis, a common complication of estrogen deprivation. This study reports the treatment and follow-up of these cases, with an emphasis on relevant aspects of individualized management, alongside a brief literature review.

Learning points

  • A diagnosis of POI should be considered in patients presenting with amenorrhea or irregular menses and high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels before age 40 years.

  • Patients with POI without an established cause, especially in familial cases, should be tested for FMR1 mutations.

  • Estrogen/progestin replacement therapy is indicated since diagnosis until at least the estimated age of menopause, and is the cornerstone for maintaining the good health of breast and urogenital tract and for primary or secondary osteoporosis prevention in POI.

  • Fertility should be managed through an individualized approach based on patient possibilities, such as egg or embryo donation and ovarian cryopreservation; pregnancy can occur spontaneously in a minority of cases.

  • Women with POI should be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk factors.

Open access

Jeremy M W Kirk, Nalin Wickramasuriya and Nicholas J Shaw

Summary

Estrogen is used to induce puberty in peripubertal girls with hypogonadism. Although both synthetic and natural forms are available, along with different routes of administration, in the UK oral ethinyl estradiol and the low-dose oral contraceptive pill are commonly used as hormone replacement therapy for practical reasons. We present five peripubertal girls (aged 12.5–14.9 years) with hypogonadism (two with primary hypogonadism due to Turner syndrome and three with central (secondary) hypogonadism as part of multiple pituitary hormone deficiency) who for a variety of reasons have received milligram doses of estradiol (E2) in error for between 6 weeks and 6 months, instead of the expected microgram doses of ethinyl estradiol. Although there are no direct comparisons in peripubertal girls between synthetic and natural estrogens, all girls had vaginal bleeding whilst receiving the milligram doses and have ended up with reduced final heights, below the 9th centile in 1 and below the 2nd centile in 4. Whilst reduction in final height may be part of the underlying condition (especially in Turner syndrome) the two girls with height predictions performed prior to receiving the estrogen overdose have not achieved their predicted height. Estrogen is one of the few drugs which is available in both milligram and microgram formulations. Clinicians need to be alert to the possibility of patients receiving the wrong formulation and dosage in error.

Learning points

  • Girls with primary and secondary gonadal failure require assistance with pubertal induction.

  • Although several different formulations and route of administration are available, for practical reasons, the majority of girls in the UK receive oral ethinyl estradiol.

  • Estrogen preparations are available in both milligram and microgram formulations, with potential for receiving the wrong dose.

  • Girls receiving milligram rather than microgram preparations all had vaginal bleeding and a short final height.