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Open access

Kirun Gunganah, Ashley Grossman and Maralyn Druce

Summary

A 22-year-old female student presented with a history of recurrent pancreatitis. The commonest causes of pancreatitis, including drugs, gallstones, corticosteroids, excess alcohol and hypertriglyceridaemia, were excluded. She was found to have an elevated serum calcium level that was considered to be the cause of her pancreatitis, with a detectable serum parathyroid hormone (PTH). An initial diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism was made. However, two neck explorations failed to reveal a parathyroid adenoma. She was referred to our unit three years later as her episodes of pancreatitis were becoming more frequent and her calcium level remained persistently elevated. Her investigations were as follows: elevated adjusted calcium level of 2.79 mmol/l (2.2–2.58), PTH level of 4.2 pmol/l (0.6–6.0), low 24 h urine calcium of 0.3 mmol/l and a urine calcium:creatinine ratio of <0.003. A clinical diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) was made and confirmed on genetic testing that showed a c.1703 G>A mutation in the calcium-sensing receptor gene. Although the hypercalcaemia of FHH is usually without sequelae due to the generalised changes in calcium sensing, in the presence of this complication she was started on cinacalcet 30 mg daily. She had one further episode of pancreatitis with calcium levels ranging between 2.53 and 2.66 mmol/l. Her cinacalcet was gradually increased to 30 mg three times daily, maintaining her calcium levels in the range of 2.15–2.20 mmol/l. She has not had a further episode of pancreatitis for more than 2 years.

FHH is usually a benign condition with minimal complications from hypercalcaemia. Pancreatitis has been reported rarely, and no clear management strategy has been defined in these cases. Cinacalcet was successfully used in treating recurrent pancreatitis in a patient with FHH by maintaining calcium levels in the lower part of the reference range. Whether or not this is an effective long-term treatment remains yet to be seen.

Learning points

  • FHH is an important differential diagnosis for hypercalcaemia.

  • FHH can rarely cause pancreatitis.

  • No clear strategy is available to help in the management of patients with pancreatitis due to FHH.

  • Cinacalcet was effective in lowering serum calcium levels and reducing the frequency of pancreatitis in our patient with FHH.

Open access

Deep Dutta, Chitra Selvan, Manoj Kumar, Saumik Datta, Ram Narayan Das, Sujoy Ghosh, Satinath Mukhopadhyay and Subhankar Chowdhury

Summary

Parathyroid cysts are rare (0.8–3.41% of all parathyroid lesions) and usually arise secondary to cystic degeneration of parathyroid adenomas. Intrathyroidal parathyroid cysts are extremely rare with only three cases reported till date. We present a 24-year-old female with clinical and biochemical features of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT; Ca2 +: 12.1 mg/dl; intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH): 1283 pg/ml) and poor radiotracer uptake with minimal residual uptake in the left thyroid lobe at 2 and 4 h on Tc99m sestamibi imaging. Neck ultrasonography (USG) revealed 0.6×1 cm parathyroid posterior left lobe of thyroid along with 22×18 mm simple thyroid cyst. USG-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and needle tip iPTH estimation (FNA-iPTH) from parathyroid lesion was inconclusive (114 pg/ml), necessitating FNA of thyroid cyst, which revealed high iPTH (3480 pg/ml) from the aspirate. The patient underwent a left hemithyroidectomy. A >50% drop in serum iPTH 20 min after left hemithyroidectomy (29.4 pg/ml) along with histopathology suggestive of intrathyroidal cystic parathyroid adenoma (cystic lesion lined by chief cell variant parathyroid cells without any nuclear atypia, capsular or vascular invasion surrounded by normal thyroid follicles) confirmed that the parathyroid cyst was responsible for PHPT. This report highlights the importance of FNA-iPTH in localizing and differentiating a functional parathyroid lesion from nonfunctional tissue in PHPT.

Learning points

  • Fine-needle aspiration from suspected parathyroid lesion and needle tip iPTH (FNA-iPTH) estimation from the saline washing has an important role in localizing primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT).

  • FNA-iPTH estimation may help in differentiating functional from nonfunctional parathyroid lesion responsible for PHPT.

  • iPTH estimation from aspirate of an intrathyroid cyst is helpful in differentiating intrathyroidal parathyroid cyst from thyroid cyst.