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Open access

Anna Tortora, Domenico La Sala and Mario Vitale

Summary

Reduced intestinal absorption of levothyroxine (LT4) is the most common cause of failure to achieve an adequate therapeutic target in hypothyroid patients under replacement therapy. We present the case of a 63-year-old woman with autoimmune hypothyroidism previously well-replaced with tablet LT4 who became unexpectedly no more euthyroid. At presentation, the patient reported the onset of acute gastrointestinal symptoms characterized by nausea, loss of appetite, flatulence, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, associated with increase of thyrotropin levels (TSH: 11 mIU/mL). Suspecting a malabsorption disease, a thyroxine solid-to-liquid formulation switch, at the same daily dose, was adopted to reach an optimal therapeutic target despite the gastrointestinal symptoms persistence. Oral LT4 solution normalized thyroid hormones. Further investigations diagnosed giardiasis, and antibiotic therapy was prescribed. This case report is compatible with a malabsorption syndrome caused by an intestinal parasite (Giardia lamblia). The reduced absorption of levothyroxine was resolved by LT4 oral solution.

Learning points:

  • The failure to adequately control hypothyroidism with oral levothyroxine is a common clinical problem.
  • Before increasing levothyroxine dose in a patient with hypothyroidism previously well-controlled with LT4 tablets but no more in appropriate therapeutic target, we suggest to investigate non adhesion to LT4 therapy, drug or food interference with levothyroxine absorption, intestinal infection, inflammatory intestinal disease, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, short bowel syndrome after intestinal or bariatric surgery, hepatic cirrhosis and congestive heart failure.
  • LT4 oral solution has a better absorptive profile than the tablet. In hypothyroid patients affected by malabsorption syndrome, switch of replacement therapy from tablet to liquid LT4 should be tested before increasing the dose of LT4.
Open access

Taisuke Uchida, Hideki Yamaguchi, Kazuhiro Nagamine, Tadato Yonekawa, Eriko Nakamura, Nobuhiro Shibata, Fumiaki Kawano, Yujiro Asada and Masamitsu Nakazato

Summary

We report a case of rapid pleural effusion after discontinuation of lenvatinib. A 73-year-old woman was diagnosed with poorly differentiated thyroid cancer with right pleural metastasis. Weekly paclitaxel treatment was performed for 18 weeks, but it was not effective. Oral administration of lenvatinib, a multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor, reduced the size of cervical and thoracic tumors and lowered serum thyroglobulin levels. Lenvatinib was discontinued on day 28 because of Grade 2 thrombocytopenia and Grade 3 petechiae. Seven days after discontinuation of lenvatinib, the patient was hospitalized because of dyspnea and right pleural effusion. Pleural effusion rapidly improved with drainage and re-initiation of lenvatinib and did not recur. Anorexia caused by lenvatinib led to undernutrition, which resulted in death 13 months after initiation of lenvatinib. Autopsy revealed extensive necrosis with primary and metastatic lesions, suggesting that the patient responded to lenvatinib. Physicians should be aware of the possibility of flare-up in patients with thyroid cancer treated with lenvatinib.

Learning points:

  • Autopsy findings revealed that lenvatinib was efficacious in treating poorly differentiated thyroid cancer without primary lesion resection.
  • Flare-up phenomenon may occur in thyroid cancer treated with lenvatinib.
  • Attention should be paid to flare-up phenomenon within a few days of discontinuing lenvatinib.
Open access

Ilan Rahmani Tzvi-Ran, Judith Olchowski, Merav Fraenkel, Asher Bashiri and Leonid Barski

Summary

A previously healthy 24-year-old female underwent an emergent caesarean section without a major bleeding described. During the first post-operative days (POD) she complained of fatigue, headache and a failure to lactate with no specific and conclusive findings on head CT. On the following days, fever rose with a suspicion of an obstetric surgery-related infection, again with no evidence to support the diagnosis. On POD5 a new-onset hyponatremia was documented. The urine analysis suggested SIADH, and following a treatment failure, further investigation was performed and demonstrated both central hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency. The patient was immediately treated with hydrocortisone followed by levothyroxine with a rapid resolution of symptoms and hyponatremia. Further laboratory investigation demonstrated anterior hypopituitarism. The main differential diagnosis was Sheehan’s syndrome vs lymphocytic hypophysitis. Brain MRI was performed as soon as it was available and findings consistent with Sheehan’s syndrome confirmed the diagnosis. Lifelong hormonal replacement therapy was initiated. Further complaints on polyuria and polydipsia have led to a water deprivation testing and the diagnosis of partial central insipidus and appropriate treatment with DDAVP.

Learning points:

  • Sheehan’s syndrome can occur, though rarely, without an obvious major post-partum hemorrhage.
  • The syndrome may resemble lymphocytic hypophysitis clinically and imaging studies may be crucial in order to differentiate both conditions.
  • Hypopituitarism presentation may be variable and depends on the specific hormone deficit.
  • Euvolemic hyponatremia workup must include thyroid function test and 08:00 AM cortisol levels.
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

Alex González Bóssolo, Michelle Mangual Garcia, Paula Jeffs González, Miosotis Garcia, Guillermo Villarmarzo and Jose Hernán Martinez

Summary

Classical papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) is a variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) known to have excellent prognosis. It has a mortality of 0.3%, even in the presence of distance metastasis. The latest American Thyroid Association guidelines state that although lobectomy is acceptable, active surveillance can be considered in the appropriate setting. We present the case of a 37-year-old female with a history of PTMC who underwent surgical management consisting of a total thyroidectomy. Although she has remained disease-free, her quality of life has been greatly affected by the sequelae of this procedure. This case serves as an excellent example of how first-line surgical treatment may result more harmful than the disease itself.

Learning points:

  • Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) has an excellent prognosis with a mortality of less than 1% even with the presence of distant metastases.
  • Active surveillance is a reasonable management approach for appropriately selected patients.
  • Patients should be thoroughly oriented about the risks and benefits of active surveillance vs immediate surgical treatment. This discussion should include the sequelae of surgery and potential impact on quality of life, especially in the younger population.
  • More studies are needed for stratification of PTMC behavior to determine if conservative management is adequate for all patients with this specific disease variant.
Open access

S Pearson, C Donnellan, L Turner, E Noble, K Seejore and R D Murray

Summary

We present the case of a thirty-year-old female patient who was referred to the endocrinology team with an enlarging goitre and biochemical hypothyroidism. She had been dependent on total parenteral nutrition for the previous six years as a result of intestinal failure thought to be caused by possible underlying mitochondrial disease. The patient also suffers from a Desmin myopathy, and at present, the exact aetiology behind her intestinal failure is not certain. The goitre was smooth and had been enlarging slowly over the previous few months. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies were found to be within normal range. Further analysis of the case showed that twelve months earlier the patients total parenteral nutrition (TPN) feed had been altered as a result of manganese toxicity. The current feeding regimen did not contain a trace element additive which had previously supplied iodine supplementation. A little detective work established that iodine content to the TPN had been reduced, the trace element additive (Additrace) was recommenced providing 1 µmol of iodine per day, equating to 130 µg of iodine. Following this change, thyroid-stimulating hormone levels returned to normal and the goitre quickly reduced in size. We present a rare case of endemic goitre and hypothyroidism in a patient receiving inadequate iodine supplementation through total parenteral nutrition.

Learning points:

  • Endemic goitre and hypothyroidism secondary to iodine deficiency are rare in the developed world. However, the diagnosis should be considered in the setting of a diffuse goitre and negative thyroid antibodies.
  • Although rare, endemic goitre should be considered in patients who present with hypothyroidism and who are dependent on total parenteral nutrition.
  • Treatment with levothyroxine is not required in endemic goitre as thyroid function tests generally normalise with the addition of iodine to the diet/total parenteral nutrition regimen.
  • Iodine supplementation at a level recommended by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) was observed to quickly normalise this patient’s thyroid function tests.
Open access

Nicholas Woodhouse, Fatima Bahowairath and Omayma Elshafie

Summary

A 55-year-old female was referred with abnormal thyroid function tests (TFTs); the free thyroxine level (FT4) was undetectable <3.3 pmol/L (normal: 7.9–14.4), while her FT3, TSH and urinary iodine levels were normal. She was clinically euthyroid with a large soft lobulated goitre that had been present for more than thirty years. She received an injection of recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) following which there was a progressive rise of the FT3 and TSH levels to 23 pmol/L and >100 mIU/L respectively at 24 h, The FT4 however remained undetectable throughout. Being on thyroxine 100 µg/day for one month, her FT4 level increased to 15 pmol/L and TSH fell to 0.08 mIU/L. Four years earlier at another hospital, her FT4 level had been low (6.8 pmol/L) with a normal TSH and a raised Tc-99 uptake of 20% (normal<4%). We checked the TFTs and Tc-99 scans in 3 of her children; one was completely normal and 2 had euthyroid with soft lobulated goitres. Their Tc-99 scan uptakes were raised at 17% and 15%, with normal TFTs apart from a low FT4 7.2 pmol/L in the son with the largest thyroid nodule. This is a previously unreported form of dyshormonogenesis in which, with time, patients gradually lose their ability to synthesize thyroxine (T4) but not triiodothyroxine (T3).

Learning points:

  • This is a previously unreported form of dyshormonogenetic goitre.
  • This goitre progressively loses its ability to synthesize T4 but not T3.
  • The inability to synthesize T4 was demonstrated by giving rhTSH.
Open access

Han Soo Park, Su Kyoung Kwon and Ye Na Kim

Summary

Thyroid storm is a rare and potentially life-threatening medical emergency. We experienced a case of thyroid storm associated with sepsis caused by pneumonia, which had a catastrophic course including recurrent cardiac arrest and subsequent multiple organ failure (MOF). A 22-year-old female patient with a 10-year history of Graves’ disease was transferred to our emergency department (ED). She had a cardiac arrest at her home and a second cardiac arrest at the ED. Her heart recovered after 20 min of cardiac resuscitation. She was diagnosed with thyroid storm associated with hyperthyroidism complicated by pneumonia and sepsis. Although full conventional medical treatment was given, she had progressive MOF and hemodynamic instability consisting of hyperthermia, tachycardia and hypotension. Because of hepatic and renal failure with refractory hypotension, we reduced the patient’s dose of beta-blocker and antithyroid drug, and she was started on continuous veno-venous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) with intravenous albumin and plasma supplementation. Subsequently, her body temperature and pulse rate began to stabilize within 1 h, and her blood pressure reached 120/60 mmHg after 6 h. We discontinued antithyroid drug 3 days after admission because of aggravated hyperbilirubinemia. The patient exhibited progressive improvement in thyroid function even after cessation of antithyroid drug, and she successfully recovered from thyroid storm and MOF. This is the first case of thyroid storm successfully treated by CRRT in a patient considered unfit for antithyroid drug treatment.

Learning points:

  • The presenting manifestations of thyroid storm vary and can include cardiac arrest with multiorgan failure in rare cases.
  • In some patients with thyroid storm, especially those with severe complications, conventional medical treatment may be ineffective or inappropriate.
  • During thyroid storm, the initiation of CRRT can immediately lower body temperature and subsequently stabilize vital signs.
  • Early initiation of CRRT can be life-saving in patients with thyroid storm complicated by MOF, even when used in combination with suboptimal medical treatment.
Open access

Julian Choi, Perin Suthakar and Farbod Farmand

Summary

We describe the case of a young Hispanic female who presented with thyrotoxicosis with seizures and ischemic stroke. She was diagnosed with a rare vasculopathy – moyamoya syndrome. After starting antithyroid therapy, her neurologic symptoms did not improve. Acute neurosurgical intervention had relieved her symptoms in the immediate post-operative period after re-anastomosis surgery. However, 2 post-operative days later, she was found to be in status epilepticus and in hyperthyroid state. She quickly deteriorated clinically and had expired a few days afterward. This is the second case in literature of a fatality in a patient with moyamoya syndrome and Graves’ disease. However, unlike the other case report, our patient had undergone successful revascularization surgery. We believe her underlying non-euthyroid state had potentiated her clinical deterioration. Case studies have shown positive correlation between uncontrolled hyperthyroidism and stroke-like symptoms in moyamoya syndrome. Mostly all patients with these two disease processes become symptomatic in marked hyperthyroid states. Thus, it may be either fluctuations in baseline thyroid function or thyrotoxicosis that potentiate otherwise asymptomatic moyamoya vasculopathy.

Learning points:

  • Awareness of the association between Graves’ disease and moyamoya syndrome in younger patients presenting with stroke-like symptoms.
  • Obtaining euthyroid states before undergoing revascularization surgery may protect the patient from perioperative mortality and morbidity.
  • Although moyamoya disease is usually thought to be genetically associated, there are reports that thyroid antibodies may play a role in its pathogenesis and have an autoimmune link.
  • Fluctuations in baseline thyroid function for patients with known Graves’ disease may be a potentiating factor in exacerbating moyamoya vasculopathy.
Open access

Ling Zhu, Sueziani Binte Zainudin, Manish Kaushik, Li Yan Khor and Chiaw Ling Chng

Summary

Type II amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIT) is an uncommon cause of thyroid storm. Due to the rarity of the condition, little is known about the role of plasma exchange in the treatment of severe AIT. A 56-year-old male presented with thyroid storm 2months following cessation of amiodarone. Despite conventional treatment, his condition deteriorated. He underwent two cycles of plasma exchange, which successfully controlled the severe hyperthyroidism. The thyroid hormone levels continued to fall up to 10h following plasma exchange. He subsequently underwent emergency total thyroidectomy and the histology of thyroid gland confirmed type II AIT. Management of thyroid storm secondary to type II AIT can be challenging as patients may not respond to conventional treatments, and thyroid storm may be more harmful in AIT patients owing to the underlying cardiac disease. If used appropriately, plasma exchange can effectively reduce circulating hormones, to allow stabilisation of patients in preparation for emergency thyroidectomy.

Learning points

  • Type II AIT is an uncommon cause of thyroid storm and may not respond well to conventional thyroid storm treatment.
  • Prompt diagnosis and therapy are important, as patients may deteriorate rapidly.
  • Plasma exchange can be used as an effective bridging therapy to emergency thyroidectomy.
  • This case shows that in type II AIT, each cycle of plasma exchange can potentially lower free triiodothyronine levels for 10h.
  • Important factors to consider when planning plasma exchange as a treatment for thyroid storm include timing of each session, type of exchange fluid to be used and timing of surgery.