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Open access

Matthieu St-Jean, Jessica MacKenzie-Feder, Isabelle Bourdeau and André Lacroix

Summary

A 29-year-old G4A3 woman presented at 25 weeks of pregnancy with progressive signs of Cushing’s syndrome (CS), gestational diabetes requiring insulin and hypertension. A 3.4 × 3.3 cm right adrenal adenoma was identified during abdominal ultrasound imaging for nephrolithiasis. Investigation revealed elevated levels of plasma cortisol, 24 h urinary free cortisol (UFC) and late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC). Serum ACTH levels were not fully suppressed (4 and 5 pmol/L (N: 2–11)). One month post-partum, CS regressed, 24-h UFC had normalised while ACTH levels were now less than 2 pmol/L; however, dexamethasone failed to suppress cortisol levels. Tests performed in vivo 6 weeks post-partum to identify aberrant hormone receptors showed no cortisol stimulation by various tests (including 300 IU hLH i.v.) except after administration of 250 µg i.v. Cosyntropin 1–24. Right adrenalectomy demonstrated an adrenocortical adenoma and atrophy of adjacent cortex. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the adenoma revealed the presence of ACTH (MC2) receptor mRNA, while LHCG receptor mRNA was almost undetectable. This case reveals that CS exacerbation in the context of pregnancy can result from the placental-derived ACTH stimulation of MC2 receptors on the adrenocortical adenoma. Possible contribution of other placental-derived factors such as oestrogens, CRH or CRH-like peptides cannot be ruled out.

Learning points:

  • Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome during pregnancy is complicated by several physiological alterations in hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis regulation occurring in normal pregnancy.

  • Cushing’s syndrome (CS) exacerbation during pregnancy can be associated with aberrant expression of LHCG receptor on primary adrenocortical tumour or hyperplasia in some cases, but not in this patient.

  • Placental-derived ACTH, which is not subject to glucocorticoid negative feedback, stimulated cortisol secretion from this adrenal adenoma causing transient CS exacerbation during pregnancy.

  • Following delivery and tumour removal, suppression of HPA axis can require several months to recover and requires glucocorticoid replacement therapy.

Open access

Jennifer Hague, Ruth Casey, Jonathan Bruty, Tom Legerton, Stephen Abbs, Susan Oddy, Andrew S Powlson, Mohamed Majeed, Mark Gurnell, Soo-Mi Park and Helen Simpson

Summary

Activating mutations in AVPR2 are associated with nephrogenic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (NSIAD). NSIAD causes hyponatremia, decreased serum osmolality and clinical symptoms, which may present from birth or in infancy and include hypotonia, irritability, vomiting and/or seizures. Symptoms in later life are often less specific and include malaise, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and headache. NSIAD is a rare X-linked condition, which is associated with a variable phenotype in males, of whom some present in infancy but others do not become symptomatic until adulthood, or occasionally, never. Female carriers may present with episodes of hyponatremia, usually found incidentally. Literature in this field is limited; namely, two clinical reports describing a female proband, both diagnosed in infancy. We describe, for the first time, the case of an adult female proband with NSIAD, who had longstanding associated symptoms of tiredness, headache, temporary memory loss and mood changes as well as hyponatremia and decreased serum osmolality. A water load test demonstrated an inability to dilute urine and gene sequencing confirmed a recurrent activating mutation in AVPR2. The variant was inherited from the proband’s mother who had had longstanding episodes of transient asymptomatic hyponatremia. This is the third report of a female proband with NSIAD and is the first female reported who sought medical treatment for chronic symptoms from adulthood. This case acts as a reminder of the importance of considering NSIAD as a diagnosis in females of all ages with unexplained hyponatremia.

Learning points:

  • Activating mutations in the AVPR2 gene are associated with the rare X-linked condition nephrogenic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis.

  • NSIAD is associated with hyponatremia, decreased serum osmolality and inappropriately increased urinary osmolality. Early clinical symptoms in infancy include hypotonia, irritability, vomiting and/or seizures. Symptoms in later life include malaise, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and headache.

  • NSIAD should be considered in female, as well as male, patients who present with unexplained hyponatremia and decreased serum osmolality. Family history may reveal relevant symptoms or biochemical features in other family members. However, family history may not always be informative due to the variable nature of the condition or if the proband has a de novo pathogenic variant.

  • A water load test with measurement of AVP may be informative in distinguishing NSIAD from SIADH. Measurement of co-peptin levels may be considered, in substitution for direct measurement of AVP.

  • Patients with NSIAD should be counseled about appropriate daily fluid volume intake. Potential episodes of fluid overload should be avoided.

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

Navira Samad and Ian Fraser

Summary

Colonoscopy is a useful tool in modern medicine and is increasingly employed for both diagnostic and treatment reasons. However, its effectiveness is highly reliant on the quality of bowel cleansing. Among different bowel-cleansing agents available, PEG (polyethylene glycol) is considered to be the safest cleansing agent, especially in relation to fluid and electrolyte problems. We present here a case of severe symptomatic hyponatremia that developed after the use of PEG for an elective colonoscopy. This case highlights that despite the use of PEG-based preparations, life-threatening fluid and electrolyte disturbances can still occur in patients with risk factors, such as old age, use of thiazide diuretics and SSRIs, chronic kidney disease, heart failure and a history of electrolyte problems. These patients should be closely monitored when undertaking bowel cleansing and should receive prompt care in the event of complications, to avoid permanent neurological sequelae and death. Rapid correction of sodium levels in patients requiring treatment of hyponatremia should be avoided to prevent complications such as osmotic demyelination syndrome.

Learning points:

  • PEG is considered to be the safest bowel-cleansing agents among different options available, but it can still cause significant side effects in susceptible individuals.

  • Those at risk of developing adverse events include elderly individuals, patients with chronic kidney disease, heart failure or previous history of electrolyte problems and those taking thiazide diuretics and SSRIs.

  • All such patients should be closely monitored i.e. have their metabolic profile checked prior to the commencement of bowel cleansing and a low threshold should be kept for the initiation of investigations and treatment in case of development of symptoms.

  • Medications with a potential of causing fluid and electrolytes such as thiazide diuretics and SSRIs should be withheld while patient is undertaking bowel preparation.

  • Hyponatremia in a hospitalized patient can be multifactorial, and the treatment principles are based on duration of onset, presence of symptoms and patients volume status.

  • Overzealous correction of sodium levels during treatment of hyponatremia can result in serious complications such as osmotic demyelination syndrome.

Open access

Pedro Marques, Kavinga Gunawardana and Ashley Grossman

Summary

Gestational diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare complication of pregnancy, usually developing in the third trimester and remitting spontaneously 4–6 weeks post-partum. It is mainly caused by excessive vasopressinase activity, an enzyme expressed by placental trophoblasts which metabolises arginine vasopressin (AVP). Its diagnosis is challenging, and the treatment requires desmopressin. A 38-year-old Chinese woman was referred in the 37th week of her first single-gestation due to polyuria, nocturia and polydipsia. She was known to have gestational diabetes mellitus diagnosed in the second trimester, well-controlled with diet. Her medical history was unremarkable. Physical examination demonstrated decreased skin turgor; her blood pressure was 102/63 mmHg, heart rate 78 beats/min and weight 53 kg (BMI 22.6 kg/m2). Laboratory data revealed low urine osmolality 89 mOsmol/kg (350–1000), serum osmolality 293 mOsmol/kg (278–295), serum sodium 144 mmol/l (135–145), potassium 4.1 mmol/l (3.5–5.0), urea 2.2 mmol/l (2.5–6.7), glucose 3.5 mmol/l and HbA1c 5.3%. Bilirubin, alanine transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and full blood count were normal. The patient was started on desmopressin with improvement in her symptoms, and normalisation of serum and urine osmolality (280 and 310 mOsmol/kg respectively). A fetus was delivered at the 39th week without major problems. After delivery, desmopressin was stopped and she had no further evidence of polyuria, polydipsia or nocturia. Her sodium, serum/urine osmolality at 12-weeks post-partum were normal. A pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed the neurohypophyseal T1-bright spot situated ectopically, with a normal adenohypophysis and infundibulum. She remains clinically well, currently breastfeeding, and off all medication. This case illustrates some challenges in the diagnosis and management of transient gestational DI.

Learning points

  • Gestational DI is a rare complication of pregnancy occurring in two to four out of 100 000 pregnancies. It usually develops at the end of the second or third trimester of pregnancy and remits spontaneously 4–6 weeks after delivery.

  • Gestational DI occurrence is related to excessive vasopressinase activity, an enzyme expressed by placental trophoblasts during pregnancy, which metabolises AVP. Its activity is proportional to the placental weight, explaining the higher vasopressinase activity in third trimester or in multiple pregnancies.

  • Vasopressinase is metabolised by the liver, which most likely explains its higher concentrations in pregnant women with hepatic dysfunction, such acute fatty liver of pregnancy, HELLP syndrome, hepatitis and cirrhosis. Therefore, it is important to assess liver function in patients with gestational DI, and to be aware of the risk of DI in pregnant women with liver disease.

  • Serum and urine osmolality are essential for the diagnosis, but other tests such as serum sodium, glucose, urea, creatinine, liver function may be informative. The water deprivation test is normally not recommended during pregnancy because it may lead to significant dehydration, but a pituitary MRI should be performed at some point to exclude lesions in the hypothalamo-pituitary region.

  • These patients should be monitored for vital signs, fluid balance, body weight, fetal status, renal and liver function, and treated with desmopressin. The recommended doses are similar or slightly higher than those recommended for central DI in non-pregnant women, and should be titrated individually.