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Open access

Anna Popławska-Kita, Marta Wielogórska, Łukasz Poplawski, Katarzyna Siewko, Agnieszka Adamska, Piotr Szumowski, Piotr Myśliwiec, Janusz Myśliwiec, Joanna Reszeć, Grzegorz Kamiński, Janusz Dzięcioł, Dorota Tobiaszewska, Małgorzata Szelachowska and Adam Jacek Krętowski

Summary

Papillary thyroid gland carcinoma is the most common type of malignancy of the endocrine system. Metastases to the pituitary gland have been described as a complication of papillary thyroid cancer in few reported cases since 1965. We report the case of a 68-year-old female patient with a well-differentiated form of thyroid gland cancer. Despite it being the most common malignant cancer of the endocrine system, with its papillary form being one of the two most frequently diagnosed thyroid cancers, the case we present is extremely rare. Sudden cardiac arrest during ventricular fibrillation occurred during hospitalization. Autopsy of the patient revealed papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, follicular variant, with metastasis to the sella turcica, and concomitant sarcoidosis of heart, lung, and mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes. Not only does atypical metastasis make our patient’s case most remarkable, but also the postmortem diagnosis of sarcoidosis makes her case particularly unusual.

Learning points:

  • The goal of presenting this case is to raise awareness of the clinical heterogeneity of papillary cancer and promote early diagnosis of unexpected metastasis and coexisting diseases to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Clinicians must be skeptical. They should not fall into the trap of diagnostic momentum or accept diagnostic labels at face value. Regardless of the potential mechanisms, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of the coexistence of thyroid cancer and sarcoidosis as a differential diagnosis of lymphadenopathy.
  • This case highlights the importance of the diagnostic and therapeutic planning process and raises awareness of the fact that one uncommon disease could be masked by another extremely rare disorder.
Open access

Haruhiko Yamazaki, Hiroyuki Iwasaki, Yoichiro Okubo, Nobuyasu Suganuma, Katsuhiko Masudo, Hirotaka Nakayama, Yasushi Rino and Munetaka Masuda

Summary

The objective this study is to report two cases of thyroid gland invasion by upper mediastinal carcinoma. Mediastinal tumors are uncommon and represent 3% of the tumors seen within the chest. In reports on mediastinal masses, the incidence of malignant lesions ranged from 25 to 49%. The thyroid gland can be directly invaded by surrounding organ cancers. We report these cases contrasting them to the case of a thyroid cancer with mediastinal lesions. Case 1 was a 73-year-old woman who was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma, and she underwent surgery and postoperative radioactive iodine. Case 2 was a 74-year-old man who was diagnosed with non-small-cell lung carcinoma, favor squamous cell carcinoma, and he underwent chemoradiotherapy. Case 3 was a 77-year-old man who was diagnosed a thymic carcinoma based on pathological findings and referred the patient to thoracic surgeons for surgical management. The images of the three cases were similar, and the differential diagnoses were difficult and required pathological examination. Primary thyroid carcinoma and invading carcinoma originating from the adjacent organs need to be distinguished because their prognoses and treatment strategies are different. It is important to properly diagnose them by images and pathological findings.

Learning points:

  • The thyroid gland in the anterior neck can be directly invaded by surrounding organ cancers.
  • Primary thyroid carcinoma and invading carcinoma originating from the adjacent organs need to be distinguished because their prognoses and treatment strategies are different.
  • It is important to properly diagnose by images and pathological findings.
Open access

Kingsley Okolie, Daniel Chen, Raf Ghabrial and Robert Schmidli

Summary

Multinodular goitre is not associated with eye disease, unless in a rare case of Marine–Lenhart syndrome where it coexists with Grave’s disease. Therefore, other causes of exophthalmos need to be ruled out when the eye disease is seen in a patient with multinodular goitre. Confusion can arise in patients with features suggestive of Graves’ ophthalmopathy in the absence of thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor autoantibodies and no evidence of other causes of exophthalmos. We present a case of multinodular goitre in a patient with exophthalmos which flared up after iodine contrast-based study. A 61-year-old Australian presented with a pre-syncopal attack and was diagnosed with toxic multinodular goitre. At the same time of investigations, to diagnose the possible cause of the pre-syncopal attack, computerised tomographic (CT) coronary artery angiogram was requested by a cardiologist. A few days after the iodine contrast-based imaging test was performed, he developed severe eye symptoms, with signs suggestive of Graves’ orbitopathy. MRI of the orbit revealed features of the disease. Although he had pre-existing eye symptoms, they were not classical of thyroid eye disease. He eventually had orbital decompressive surgery. This case poses a diagnostic dilemma of a possible Graves’ orbitopathy in a patient with multinodular goitre.

Learning points:

  • Graves’ orbitopathy can occur in a patient with normal autothyroid antibodies. The absence of the thyroid antibodies does not rule out the disease in all cases.
  • Graves’ orbitopathy can coexist with multinodular goitre.
  • Iodine-based compounds, in any form, can trigger severe symptoms, on the background of Graves’ eye disease.
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

Colin L Knight, Shamil D Cooray, Jaideep Kulkarni, Michael Borschmann and Mark Kotowicz

A 51 year old man presented with sepsis in the setting of thioamide-induced agranulocytosis. Empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics was followed by directed narrow-spectrum antibiotics, and his neutrophil count recovered with support from granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) analogue transfusions. After a brief period of multi-modal therapy for nine days including potassium iodide (Lugol’s iodine), cholestyramine, propanolol and lithium to temper his persisting hyperthyroidism, a total thyroidectomy was performed while thyroid hormone levels remained at thyrotoxic levels. Postoperative recovery was uncomplicated and he was discharged home on thyroxine. There is limited available evidence to guide treatment in this unique cohort of patients who require prompt management to avert impending clinical deterioration. This case report summarises the successful emergent control of thyrotoxicosis in the setting of thioamide-induced agranulocytosis complicated by sepsis, and demonstrates the safe use of multi-modal pharmacological therapies in preparation for total thyroidectomy.

Learning points:

  • Thioamide-induced agranulocytosis is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening complication of which all prescribers and patients need to be aware.
  • A multi-modal preoperative pharmacological approach can be successful, even when thioamides are contraindicated, when needing to prepare a thyrotoxic patient for semi-urgent total thyroidectomy.
  • There is not enough evidence to confidently predict the safe timing when considering total thyroidectomy in this patient cohort, and therefore it should be undertaken when attempts have first been made to safely reduce thyroid hormone levels.
  • Thyroid storm is frequently cited as a potentially severe complication of thyroid surgery undertaken in thyrotoxic patients, although the evidence does not demonstrate this as a common occurrence.
Open access

Georgios Velimezis, Argyrios Ioannidis, Sotirios Apostolakis, Maria Chorti, Charalampos Avramidis and Evripidis Papachristou

Summary

During embryogenesis, the thymus and inferior parathyroid glands develop from the third pharyngeal pouch and migrate to their definite position. During this process, several anatomic variations may arise, with the thyroid being one of the most common sites of ectopic implantation for both organs. Here, we report the case of a young female patient, who underwent total thyroidectomy for papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. The patient’s history was remarkable for disorders of the genitourinary system. Histologic examination revealed the presence of well-differentiated intrathyroidal thymic tissue, containing an inferior parathyroid gland. While each individual entity has been well documented, this is one of the few reports in which concurrent presentation is reported. Given the fact that both the thymus and the inferior parathyroid are derivatives of the same embryonic structure (i.e. the third pharyngeal pouch), it is speculated that the present condition resulted from a failure in separation and migration during organogenesis.

Learning points:

  • Intrathyroidal thymus and parathyroid are commonly found individually, but rarely concurrently.
  • It is a benign and asymptomatic condition.
  • Differential diagnosis during routine workup with imaging modalities can be challenging.
Open access

Pradeep Vasudevan, Corrina Powell, Adeline K Nicholas, Ian Scudamore, James Greening, Soo-Mi Park and Nadia Schoenmakers

Summary

In the absence of maternal thyroid disease or iodine deficiency, fetal goitre is rare and usually attributable to dyshormonogenesis, for which genetic ascertainment is not always undertaken in the UK. Mechanical complications include tracheal and oesophageal compression with resultant polyhydramnios, malpresentation at delivery and neonatal respiratory distress. We report an Indian kindred in which the proband (first-born son) had congenital hypothyroidism (CH) without obvious neonatal goitre. His mother’s second pregnancy was complicated by fetal hypothyroid goitre and polyhydramnios, prompting amniotic fluid drainage and intraamniotic therapy (with liothyronine, T3 and levothyroxine, T4). Sadly, intrauterine death occurred at 31 weeks. Genetic studies in the proband demonstrated compound heterozygous novel (c.5178delT, p.A1727Hfs*26) and previously described (c.7123G > A, p.G2375R) thyroglobulin (TG) mutations which are the likely cause of fetal goitre in the deceased sibling. TG mutations rarely cause fetal goitre, and management remains controversial due to the potential complications of intrauterine therapy however an amelioration in goitre size may be achieved with intraamniotic T4, and intraamniotic T3/T4 combination has achieved a favourable outcome in one case. A conservative approach, with surveillance, elective delivery and commencement of levothyroxine neonatally may also be justified, although intubation may be required post delivery for respiratory obstruction. Our observations highlight the lethality which may be associated with fetal goitre. Additionally, although this complication may recur in successive pregnancies, our case highlights the possibility of discordance for fetal goitre in siblings harbouring the same dyshormonogenesis-associated genetic mutations. Genetic ascertainment may facilitate prenatal diagnosis and assist management in familial cases.

Learning points:

  • CH due to biallelic, loss-of-function TG mutations is well-described and readily treatable in childhood however mechanical complications from associated fetal goitre may include polyhydramnios, neonatal respiratory compromise and neck hyperextension with dystocia complicating delivery.
  • CH due to TG mutations may manifest with variable phenotypes, even within the same kindred.
  • Treatment options for hypothyroid dyshormogenic fetal goitre in a euthyroid mother include intraamniotic thyroid hormone replacement in cases with polyhydramnios or significant tracheal obstruction. Alternatively, cases may be managed conservatively with radiological surveillance, elective delivery and neonatal levothyroxine treatment, although intubation and ventilation may be required to support neonatal respiratory compromise.
  • Genetic ascertainment in such kindreds may enable prenatal diagnosis and anticipatory planning for antenatal management of further affected offspring.
Open access

Ji Wei Yang and Jacques How

Summary

Lugol’s solution is usually employed for a limited period for thyroidectomy preparation in patients with Graves’ disease and for the control of severe thyrotoxicosis and thyroid storm. We describe a rare case of Lugol’s solution-induced painless thyroiditis. In November 2014, a 59-year-old woman was prescribed Lugol’s solution four drops per day for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. She was referred to our clinic in June 2015 for fatigue, hair loss, and a 20-lb weight loss without thyroid pain or discomfort. Physical examination revealed a normal thyroid gland. On 7 May 2015, laboratory tests revealed a suppressed thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) 0.01 U/L with elevated free T4 3.31 ng/dL (42.54 pmol/L). Repeat testing on 25 May 2015 showed spontaneous normalization of the free thyroid hormone levels with persistently low TSH 0.10 U/L. Following these results, a family physician prescribed methimazole 10 mg PO TID and very soon after, the TSH concentration rose to >100 U/L along with subnormal free T4 and T3 levels. Methimazole was promptly discontinued, namely within 18 days of its initiation. Over the course of the next few months, the patient spontaneously achieved clinical and biochemical euthyroidism. To our knowledge, this is a unique case of painless thyroiditis induced by Lugol’s solution, which has not been reported before. Lugol’s solution is a short-term medication given for the preparation of thyroidectomy in patients with Graves’ disease and for the control of severe thyrotoxicosis. Iodine excess can cause both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Rarely, Lugol’s solution can cause acute painless thyroiditis.

Learning points:

  • Lugol’s solution is used for thyroidectomy preparation in patients with Graves’ disease and for the control of severe thyrotoxicosis and thyroid storm.
  • Iodine excess can cause both hypothyroidism and thyrotoxicosis. Thyroid glands with an underlying pathology are particularly susceptible to the adverse effect of iodine.
  • The prolonged off-label use of Lugol’s solution can be harmful. Rarely, Lugol’s solution can cause acute painful thyroiditis.
Open access

Ayanthi A Wijewardene, Sarah J Glastras, Diana L Learoyd, Bruce G Robinson and Venessa H M Tsang

Summary

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare neuroendocrine tumour that originates from the parafollicular cells of the thyroid gland. The most common presentation of MTC is with a single nodule; however, by the time of diagnosis, most have spread to the surrounding cervical lymph nodes. Cushing’s syndrome is a rare complication of MTC and is due to ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) secretion by tumour cells. Cushing’s syndrome presents a challenging diagnostic and management issue in patients with MTC. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) previously used for the management of metastatic MTC have become an important therapeutic option for the management of ectopic ACTH in metastatic MTC. The article describes three cases of ectopic ACTH secretion in MTC and addresses the significant diagnostic and management challenges related to Cushing’s syndrome in metastatic MTC.

Learning points:

  • Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare neuroendocrine tumour.
  • Cushing’s syndrome is a rare complication of MTC that has a significant impact on patients’ morbidity and mortality.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) provide an important therapeutic option for the management of ectopic ACTH in metastatic MTC.
Open access

Catarina Roque, Ricardo Fonseca, Carlos Tavares Bello, Carlos Vasconcelos, António Galzerano and Sância Ramos

Summary

Primary adrenal lymphoma is a rare malignancy. It frequently presents bilaterally and with symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. Amiodarone may induce secondary organ dysfunction, and thyrotoxicosis develops in 15% of cases. The symptomatology of both conditions is nonspecific, especially in the elderly, and a high suspicion index is necessary for appropriate diagnosis. A 78-year-old female presented to the emergency department with confusion, nausea and vomiting. She had recently been to the emergency department with urinary tract infection, vomiting and acute hypochloremic hyponatremia. Upon re-evaluation, the leukocyturia persisted and because of TSH 0.01 µU/mL and free-T4 68 (10–18) pmol/L, she was admitted to the Endocrinology ward. Further evaluation supported amiodarone-induced thyroiditis type 2. Sepsis ensued, in the setting of nosocomial pneumonia. Hemodynamic instability, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia and vomiting raised the suspicion of adrenocortical insufficiency. Fluid resuscitation and hydrocortisone led to clinical improvement, and adrenal insufficiency was admitted. The thoracoabdominal tomography suggested an endobronchic primary lesion with hepatic and adrenal secondary deposits (6.6 and 7 cm), but this was confirmed neither on pleural effusion nor on bronchofibroscopic fluid analyses. The adrenals were not accessible for biopsy. Despite high-dose hydrocortisone maintenance, the patient died before definite diagnosis. The autopsy confirmed primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Learning points:

  • Primary adrenal lymphoma is a rare cause of adrenal insufficiency, but progression can be fast and fatal.
  • Hyperpigmentation is frequently absent.
  • The presenting symptoms are nonspecific and might mimic infection. Disproportion of the general state with signs of specific organ symptomatology is a diagnostic clue.
  • Infection may precipitate adrenal crisis and worsen thyroid function with further adrenal insufficiency exacerbation.
  • In the context of thyrotoxicosis, there may be little clinical response to a therapeutic trial with standard dose glucocorticoids.
  • High-dose glucocorticoid substitution may be required to achieve clinical stability in thyrotoxic patients.