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Open access

João José Nunes Roque, Irina Borisovna Samokhvalova Alves, Ana Maria de Almeida Paiva Fernandes Rodrigues, and Maria João Bugalho

Summary

Menopause is a relative hyperandrogenic state but the development of hirsutism or virilizing features should not be regarded as normal. We report the case of a 62-year-old woman with a 9-month history of progressive frontotemporal hair loss and hirsutism, particularly on her back, arms and forearms. Blood tests showed increased total testosterone of 5.20 nmol/L that remained elevated after an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. Free Androgen Index was 13.1 and DHEAS was repeatedly normal. Imaging examinations to study adrenals and ovaries were negative. The biochemical profile and the absence of imaging in favor of an adrenal tumor made us consider the ovarian origin as the most likely hypothesis. After informed consent, bilateral salpingectomy-oophorectomy and total hysterectomy were performed. Gross pathology revealed ovaries of increased volume and histology showed bilateral ovarian stromal hyperplasia. Testosterone levels normalized after surgery and hirsutism had completely subsided 8 months later.

Learning points

Open access

Simone Pederzoli, Giorgia Spaggiari, Giuditta Bernardelli, Francesco Mattioli, Cinzia Baldessari, Antonino Maiorana, Vincenzo Rochira, and Daniele Santi

Summary

We present the case of a 69-year-old woman who attended the Endocrinology Unit of Modena for a suspicious lymph node in the left cervical compartment discovered during the follow-up of a recurrent gynecological malignancy. At neck ultrasonography, a thyroid goiter was detected, and the further cytological examination was inconclusive for thyroid nodule and compatible with a localization of an adenocarcinoma with papillary architecture for the lymph node. The histological examination after a left neck dissection confirmed the presence of an intracapsular metastasis of a papillary carcinoma immunohistochemically focally positive for thyroid transcription factor 1 and paired box 8 and negative for thyroglobulin. Subsequently, in the suspicion of a thyroid primitiveness, a total thyroidectomy was performed, revealing an intraparenchymal follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma of 2 mm in the right lobe. During the follow-up, the appearance of a suspected cervical metastatic lesion led to another neck dissection, histologically compatible with a papillary carcinoma localization, immunohistochemically focally positive for thyroid transcription factor 1 and paired box 8, and negative for thyroglobulin. The histological revision of surgical specimens suggests the cervical recurrence of the prior gynecological cancer, rather than a thyroid carcinoma metastasis. The case described shows how carefully the cytological, histological and immunoistochemical results must be evaluated in oncological management, considering the whole patient’s history.

Learning points

Open access

Shuhei Baba, Arina Miyoshi, Shinji Obara, Hiroaki Usubuchi, Satoshi Terae, Masao Sunahara, Takahiro Oshima, Kazuhito Misawa, Takahiro Tsuji, Bunya Takahashi, Yuto Yamazaki, Hironobu Sasano, and Norio Wada

Summary

A 31-year-old man with Williams syndrome (WS) was referred to our hospital because of a 9-year history of hypertension, hypokalemia, and high plasma aldosterone concentration to renin activity ratio. A diagnosis of primary aldosteronism (PA) was clinically confirmed but an abdominal CT scan showed no abnormal findings in his adrenal glands. However, a 13-mm hypervascular tumor in the posterosuperior segment of the right hepatic lobe was detected. Adrenal venous sampling (AVS) subsequently revealed the presence of an extended tributary of the right adrenal vein to the liver surrounding the tumor. Segmental AVS further demonstrated a high plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) in the right superior tributary vein draining the tumor. Laparoscopic partial hepatectomy was performed. The resected tumor histologically separated from the liver was composed of clear cells, immunohistochemically positive for aldesterone synthase (CYP11B2), and subsequently diagnosed as aldosterone-producing adrenal adenoma. After surgery, his blood pressure, serum potassium level, plasma renin activity and PAC were normalized. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of WS associated with PA. WS harbors a high prevalence of hypertension and therefore PA should be considered when managing the patients with WS and hypertension. In this case, the CT findings alone could not differentiate the adrenal rest tumor. Our case, therefore, highlights the usefulness of segmental AVS to distinguish adrenal tumors from hepatic adrenal rest tumors.

Learning points:

  • Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic disorder, characterized by a constellation of medical and cognitive findings, with a hallmark feature of generalized arteriopathy presenting as stenoses of elastic arteries and hypertension.
  • WS is a disease with a high frequency of hypertension but the renin-aldosterone system in WS cases has not been studied at all.
  • If a patient with WS had hypertension and severe hypokalemia, low PRA and high ARR, the coexistence of primary aldosteronism (PA) should be considered.
  • Adrenal rest tumors are thought to arise from aberrant adrenal tissues and are a rare cause of PA.
  • Hepatic adrenal rest tumor (HART) should be considered in the differential diagnosis when detecting a mass in the right hepatic lobe.
  • Segmental adrenal venous sampling could contribute to distinguish adrenal tumors from HART.
Open access

Mitsuhiro Kometani, Takashi Yoneda, Yuji Maeda, Masashi Oe, Yoshimichi Takeda, Takuya Higashitani, Daisuke Aono, Asuka Yoshino, Shigehiro Karashima, and Yoshiyu Takeda

Summary

Pheochromocytoma crisis results from the sudden release of large quantities of catecholamines and leads to progressive multiple organ dysfunction. Here we report a case of pheochromocytoma crisis with symptoms associated with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and severe fluctuations in blood pressure (BP). A 43-year-old Japanese man with hypertension (240/120 mmHg) visited a general hospital for chest pain. Echocardiogram showed ST segment depression and blood test demonstrated elevated troponin T. However, emergent coronary angiography revealed normal findings. CT showed a large adrenal mass on the left side, which was suspected as the cause of chest pain and BP elevation. After the patient was transported to our hospital, his BP was found to oscillate between 70 and 240 mmHg, and level of consciousness was decreased. After hospitalization, he had a further decrease in consciousness, a rise in body temperature, and a gradual increase in the interval between the upper and lower systolic BP. His systolic BP varied between 30 mmHg and 300 mmHg at the intervals of 20-30 min. After a multimodality therapy, including α-blocker and high dose fluid replacement, the fluctuation in his BP was gradually decreased and got stabilized after approximately 24 h. Approximately 3 weeks later, he underwent left adrenalectomy. This case showed that pheochromocytoma with internal necrosis might be misdiagnosed as ACS. Furthermore, in cases with a large adrenal tumor and severe elevation or fluctuations of BP, pheochromocytoma should be suspected and treated with α-blockers and fluid replacements as soon as possible prior to surgery.

Learning points:

  • High catecholamine levels due to pheochromocytoma crisis might cause symptoms associated with acute coronary syndrome.
  • Adrenal tumor with internal necrosis and the elevation or fluctuations of blood pressure should be suspected to be pheochromocytoma.
  • If pheochromocytoma crisis is suspected, the specialist, such as an endocrinologist or a urologist, should intervene, and an α-blocker treatment with adequate fluid replacement therapy should be initiated as soon as possible.
  • Pheochromocytoma multisystem crisis (PMC) is a fatal condition characterized by multiple organ failure, severe blood pressure variability, high fever, and encephalopathy. This is an extremely rare subtype of a very rare disease such as pheochromocytoma. However, because the fatality rate of PMC is high, clinicians should be aware of the symptoms that mark its onset.
Open access

Mauro Boronat

Summary

Isolated, adult-onset central hypothyroidism is very rare, and its diagnosis can be challenging. A 42-year-old patient was referred for evaluation of a 2.8 cm thyroid nodule. She referred symptoms that could be attributed to hypothyroidism and thyroid tests showed low TSH and normal-low levels of free T4. However, evaluation of the remaining pituitary hormones and pituitary MRI were normal, yet a radionuclide scanning revealed that the thyroid nodule was ‘hot’ and the tracer uptake in the remaining thyroid tissue was suppressed. Interpretation of these studies led to a misdiagnosis of subclinical hyperthyroidism and the patient was treated with radioiodine. Soon after treatment, she developed a frank hypothyroidism without appropriate elevation of TSH and the diagnosis of central hypothyroidism was made a posteriori. Long term follow-up revealed a progressive pituitary failure, with subsequent deficiency of ACTH and GH. This case should alert to the possibility of overlooking central hypothyroidism in patients simultaneously bearing primary thyroid diseases able to cause subclinical hyperthyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Although rarely, acquired central hypothyroidism can occur in the absence of other pituitary hormone deficiencies.
  • In these cases, diagnosis is challenging, as symptoms are unspecific and usually mild, and laboratory findings are variable, including low, normal or even slightly elevated TSH levels, along with low or low-normal concentrations of free T4.
  • In cases with low TSH levels, the coexistence of otherwise common disorders able to cause primary thyroid hyperfunction, such as autonomous nodular disease, may lead to a misdiagnosis of subclinical hyperthyroidism.
Open access

Jane J Tellam, Ghusoon Abdulrasool, and Louise C H Ciin

Summary

Distinguishing primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) from familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) can be challenging. Currently, 24-h urinary calcium is used to differentiate between the two conditions in vitamin D replete patients, with urinary calcium creatinine clearance ratio (UCCR) <0.01 suggestive of FHH and >0.02 supportive of PHPT. A 26-year-old Caucasian gentleman presented with recurrent mild hypercalcaemia and inappropriately normal parathyroid hormone (PTH) following previous parathyroidectomy 3 years prior. He had symptoms of fatigue and light-headedness. He did not have any other symptoms of hypercalcaemia. His previous evaluation appeared to be consistent with PHPT as evidenced by hypercalcaemia with inappropriately normal PTH and UCCR of 0.0118 (borderline low using guidelines of >0.01 consistent with PHPT). He underwent parathyroidectomy and three parathyroid glands were removed. His calcium briefly normalised after surgery, but rose again to pre-surgery levels within 3 months. Subsequently, he presented to our centre and repeated investigations showed 24-h urinary calcium of 4.6 mmol/day and UCCR of 0.0081 which prompted assessment for FHH. His calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) gene was sequenced and a rare inactivating variant was detected. This variant was described once previously in the literature. His mother was also confirmed to have mild hypercalcaemia with hypocalciuria and, on further enquiry, had the same CASR variant. The CASR variant was classified as likely pathogenic and is consistent with the diagnosis of FHH. This case highlights the challenges in differentiating FHH from PHPT. Accurate diagnosis is vital to prevent unnecessary surgical intervention in the FHH population and is not always straightforward.

Learning points:

  • Distinguishing FHH from PHPT with co-existing vitamin D deficiency is difficult as this can mimic FHH. Therefore, ensure patients are vitamin D replete prior to performing 24-h urinary calcium collection.
  • Individuals with borderline UCCR could have either FHH or PHPT. Consider performing CASR gene sequencing for UCCR between 0.01 and 0.02.
  • Parathyroid imaging is not required for making the diagnosis of PHPT. It is performed when surgery is considered after confirming the diagnosis of PHPT.
Open access

Anna Luiza Galeazzi Rech, Yvon Stüve, Andreas Toepfer, and Katrin E Schimke

Summary

Acute Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN) is a clinical entity which can easily go unrecognized in its acute early stages due to lack of awareness and unspecific presentation. However, missing early diagnosis can lead to severe complications. We present the case of a 72-year-old male patient who went through the natural course of the disease unnoticed before the very eyes of his physicians leading to a tragic end. We aim to raise awareness for this rare diabetic complication, emphasizing the necessity of early diagnosis and adequate, interdisciplinary treatment.

Learning points:

  • Clinical signs and symptoms of acute Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN).
  • Red flags.
  • Importance of early diagnosis and correct treatment.
  • Diagnostic challenges of acute CN.
  • Awareness of high morbidity and mortality.
Open access

Waralee Chatchomchaun, Yotsapon Thewjitcharoen, Karndumri Krittadhee, Veekij Veerasomboonsin, Soontaree Nakasatien, Sirinate Krittiyawong, Sriurai Porramatikul, Ekgaluck Wanathayanoroj, Auchai Kanchanapituk, Pairoj Junyangdikul, and Thep Himathongkam

Summary

In this case report, we describe a 37-year-old male who presented with fever and tender neck mass. Neck ultrasonography revealed a mixed echogenic multiloculated solid-cystic lesion containing turbid fluid and occupying the right thyroid region. Thyroid function tests showed subclinical hyperthyroidism. The patient was initially diagnosed with thyroid abscess and he was subsequently treated with percutaneous aspiration and i.v. antibiotics; however, his clinical symptoms did not improve. Surgical treatment was then performed and a pathological examination revealed a ruptured epidermoid cyst with abscess formation. No thyroid tissue was identified in the specimen. The patient was discharged uneventfully. However, at the 3-month and 1-year follow-ups, the patient was discovered to have developed subclinical hypothyroidism. Neck ultrasonography revealed a normal thyroid gland. This report demonstrates a rare case of epidermoid cyst abscess in the cervical region, of which initial imaging and abnormal thyroid function tests led to the erroneous diagnosis of thyroid abscess.

Learning points:

  • Epidermoid cyst abscess at the cervical region can mimic thyroid abscess.
  • Neck ultrasonography cannot distinguish thyroid abscess from epidermoid cyst abscess.
  • Thyroid function may be altered due to the adjacent soft tissue inflammation.
Open access

Daniela Gallo, Sara Rosetti, Ilaria Marcon, Elisabetta Armiraglio, Antonina Parafioriti, Graziella Pinotti, Giuseppe Perrucchini, Bohdan Patera, Linda Gentile, Maria Laura Tanda, Luigi Bartalena, and Eliana Piantanida

Summary

Brown tumors are osteoclastic, benign lesions characterized by fibrotic stroma, intense vascularization and multinucleated giant cells. They are the terminal expression of the bone remodelling process occurring in advanced hyperparathyroidism. Nowadays, due to earlier diagnosis, primary hyperparathyroidism keeps few of the classical manifestations and brown tumors are definitely unexpected. Thus, it may happen that they are misdiagnosed as primary or metastatic bone cancer. Besides bone imaging, endocrine evaluation including measurement of serum parathyroid hormone and calcium (Ca) levels supports the pathologist to address the diagnosis. Herein, a case of multiple large brown tumors misdiagnosed as a non-treatable osteosarcoma is described, with special regards to diagnostic work-up. After selective parathyroidectomy, treatment with denosumab was initiated and a regular follow-up was established. The central role of multidisciplinary approach involving pathologist, endocrinologist and oncologist in the diagnostic and therapeutic work-up is reported. In our opinion, the discussion of this case would be functional especially for clinicians and pathologists not used to the differential diagnosis in uncommon bone disorders.

Learning points:

  • Brown tumors develop during the remodelling process of bone in advanced and long-lasting primary or secondary hyperparathyroidism.
  • Although rare, they should be considered during the challenging diagnostic work-up of giant cell lesions.
  • Coexistence of high parathyroid hormone levels and hypercalcemia in primary hyperparathyroidism is crucial for the diagnosis.
  • A detailed imaging study includes bone X-ray, bone scintiscan and total body CT; to rule out bone malignancy, evaluation of bone lesion biopsy should include immunostaining for neoplastic markers as H3G34W and Ki67 index.
  • If primary hyperparathyroidism is confirmed, selective parathyroidectomy is the first-line treatment.
  • In advanced bone disease, treatment with denosumab should be considered, ensuring a strict control of Ca levels.
Open access

Raku Son, Masahiko Nagahama, Fumiaki Tanemoto, Yugo Ito, Fumika Taki, Ryosuke Tsugitomi, and Masaaki Nakayama

Summary

The etiology of hyponatremia is assessed based on urine osmolality and sodium. We herein describe a 35-year-old Asian man with pulmonary tuberculosis and perforated duodenal ulcer who presented with hyponatremia with hourly fluctuating urine osmolality ranging from 100 to 600 mosmol/kg, which resembled urine osmolality observed in typical polydipsia and SIADH simultaneously. Further review revealed correlation of body temperature and urine osmolality. Since fever is a known non-osmotic stimulus of ADH secretion, we theorized that hyponatremia in this patient was due to transient ADH secretion due to fever. In our case, empiric exogenous glucocorticoid suppressed transient non-osmotic ADH secretion and urine osmolality showed highly variable concentrations. Transient ADH secretion-related hyponatremia may be underrecognized due to occasional empiric glucocorticoid administration in patients with critical illnesses. Repeatedly monitoring of urine chemistries and interpretation of urine chemistries with careful review of non-osmotic stimuli of ADH including fever is crucial in recognition of this etiology.

Learning points:

  • Hourly fluctuations in urine osmolality can be observed in patients with fever, which is a non-osmotic stimulant of ADH secretion.
  • Repeated monitoring of urine chemistries aids in the diagnosis of the etiology underlying hyponatremia, including fever, in patients with transient ADH secretion.
  • Glucocorticoid administration suppresses ADH secretion and improves hyponatremia even in the absence of adrenal insufficiency; the etiology of hyponatremia should be determined carefully in these patients.