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Open access

Adriana de Sousa Lages, Isabel Paiva, Patrícia Oliveira, Francisco Portela and Francisco Carrilho

Summary

Insulinomas are the most frequent cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. Although surgical enucleation is the standard treatment, a few other options are available to high-risk patients who are elderly or present with co-morbidities. We present a case report of an 89-year-old female patient who was admitted to the emergency department due to recurrent hypoglycaemia, especially during fasting. Laboratory work-up raised the suspicion of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, and abdominal CT scan revealed a 12 mm nodular hypervascular lesion of the pancreatic body suggestive of neuroendocrine tumour. The patient was not considered a suitable candidate for surgery, and medical therapy with diazoxide was poorly tolerated. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided ethanol ablation therapy was performed and a total of 0.6 mL of 95% ethanol was injected into the lesion by a transgastric approach; no complications were reported after the procedure. At 5 months of follow-up, no episodes of hypoglycaemia were reported, no diazoxide therapy was necessary, and revaluation abdominal CT scan revealed a pancreatic nodular lesion with a size involution of about half of its original volume. The patient is regularly followed-up at the endocrinology clinic and shows a significant improvement in her wellbeing and quality of life.

Learning points:

  • Insulinomas are the most frequent cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia.
  • Surgical enucleation is the standard treatment with a few other options available to high-risk patients.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound-guided ethanol ablation therapy is one feasible option in high-risk patients with satisfactory clinical outcomes, significant positive impact on quality of life and low complication rates related to the procedure.
Open access

Benjamin G Challis, Nicolai J Wewer Albrechtsen, Vishakha Bansiya, Keith Burling, Peter Barker, Bolette Hartmann, Fiona Gribble, Stephen O'Rahilly, Jens J Holst and Helen L Simpson

Summary

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) secreting proglucagon are associated with phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, we describe two patients with pNETs and varied clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of proglucagon-derived peptides (PGDPs). Case 1, a 57-year-old woman presented with necrolytic migratory erythema, anorexia, constipation and hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. She was found to have a grade 1 pNET, small bowel mucosal thickening and hyperglucagonaemia. Somatostatin analogue (SSA) therapy improved appetite, abolished hypoglycaemia and improved the rash. Case 2, a 48-year-old male presented with diabetes mellitus, diarrhoea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and perineal rash due to a grade 1 metastatic pNET and hyperglucagonaemia. In both cases, plasma levels of all measured PGDPs were elevated and attenuated following SSA therapy. In case 1, there was increased production of intact glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2, similar to that of the enteroendocrine L cell. In case 2, pancreatic glucagon was elevated due to a pancreatic α-cell-like proglucagon processing profile. In summary, we describe two patients with pNETs and heterogeneous clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of PGDPs. This is the first description of a patient with symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia and marked gastrointestinal dysfunction due to, in part, a proglucagon-expressing pNET.

Learning points

  • PGDPs exhibit a diverse range of biological activities including critical roles in glucose and amino acid metabolism, energy homeostasis and gastrointestinal physiology.
  • The clinical manifestations of proglucagon-expressing tumours may exhibit marked phenotypic variation due to the biochemical heterogeneity of their secreted peptide repertoire.
  • Specific and precise biochemical assessment of individuals with proglucagon-expressing tumours may provide opportunities for improved diagnosis and clinical management.

Open access

Marinos C Makris, Konstantinos C Koumarelas, Apostolos S Mitrousias, Giannos G Psathas, Athanasios Mantzioros, Stratigoula P Sakellariou, Panagiota Ntailiani and Evripides Yettimis

Summary

Until now, less than ten cases of extra-adrenal chromaffin cell tumors have been reported to be localized to the spermatic cord area. All published studies report benign tumors with a diameter <2–3 cm and no invasion of the testis. In this article, we present one case of a giant malignant paraganglioma in the testis of a patient who had initially been operated for a giant mass in the scrotum. The mass developed in approximately 4 months. This is the first study reporting the following findings: i) paraganglioma was found exclusively in the testis, invading the testicle and not the spermatic cord, ii) it was malignant with lung metastasis, and iii) its size was 17.5 cm×10 cm×9.5 cm. We present the first – giant – malignant paraganglioma. Moreover, it is the first case report of a paraganglioma in the testis.

Learning points

  • This is the first study reporting the following findings:
  • Paraganglioma found exclusively in the testis, invading the testicle and not the spermatic cord.
  • It is malignant with lung metastasis.
  • It is of the size 17.5 cm×10 cm×9.5 cm.

Open access

M A W Hermans, B M L Stelten, H R Haak, W W de Herder and M W Dercksen

Summary

This paper reports on two patients with a long-standing diagnosis of an ENETS stage IV neuroendocrine tumour (NET) of the small intestine who developed neurological symptoms. The first patient only had bulbar symptoms and tested positive for acetylcholine receptor antibodies. The second patient had more classical symptoms of fatigable diplopia and muscle weakness of the legs, but no detectable antibodies. The diagnosis of paraneoplastical myasthenia gravis (MG) was postulated. Both patients were treated with pyridostigmine for MG and octreotide for the NETs. Interestingly, treatment of the NETs resulted in improvement of myasthenic symptoms. Paraneoplastic MG has been described to occur with certain malignancies, mainly thymoma. Herein, we prove that the association with gastrointestinal NETs, however, rare, is also one to be considered by clinicians dealing with either of these diseases. The pathogenesis has yet to be elucidated.

Learning points

  • NETs are rare malignancies with a wide variety of symptoms.
  • Paraneoplastic MG can occur with various types of malignancies.
  • Herein, we provide evidence of paraneoplastic MG in association with a grade IV NET of the small intestine.
  • Treatment of the NETs resulted in remission of myasthenic symptoms in one patient.

Open access

I Huguet, C Lamas, R Vera, A Lomas, R P Quilez, A Grossman and F Botella

Summary

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are a heterogeneous group of neoplasms whose management can be problematic. In many cases, multiple tumours may occur in the same patient or his or her family, and some of these have now been defined genetically, although in other cases the underlying gene or genes involved remain unclear. We describe a patient, a 63-year-old female, who was diagnosed with a medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), which was confirmed pathologically after thyroidectomy, but whose circulating calcitonin levels remained elevated after thyroidectomy with no evidence of metastatic disease. Subsequently, an entirely separate and discrete duodenal NET was identified; this was 2.8 cm in diameter and was removed at partial duodenectomy. The tumour stained immunohistochemically for calcitonin, and its removal led to persistent normalisation of the circulating calcitonin levels. There was no germline mutation of the RET oncogene. This is the first identification of a duodenal NET secreting calcitonin and also the first demonstration of a second tumour secreting calcitonin in a patient with MTC. We suggest that where calcitonin levels remain high after removal of a MTC a search for other NETs should be conducted.

Learning points

  • NETs are a complex and heterogeneous group of related neoplasms, and multiple tumours may occur in the same patient.
  • Calcitonin can be produced ectopically by several tumours outside the thyroid.
  • Persistently elevated calcitonin levels after removal of a MTC may not necessarily indicate persisting or metastatic disease from the tumour.
  • The real prevalence of calcitonin-producing NETs may be underestimated, as serum determination is only recommended in the diagnosis of pancreatic NETs.