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Open access

Anand Gandhi, Mike Mortensen, Sonie Sunny, Pawarid Techathaveewat, Jerome Targovnik, and Mahmoud Alsayed

Summary

Immobilization-induced hypercalcemia is an uncommon cause of elevated calcium which is usually diagnosed following extensive systemic workup and exclusion of more common etiologies. Previously reported cases have largely described this phenomenon in adolescents and young adults a few weeks to months after the initial onset of immobilization. Metabolic workup tends to demonstrate hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, and eventual osteoporosis. While the exact mechanism remains largely unclear, a dysregulation between bone resorption and formation is central to the pathogenesis of this disease. Decreased mechanical loading from prolonged bedrest tends to increase osteoclast induced bone resorption while promoting osteocytes to secrete proteins such as sclerostin to reduce osteoblast mediated bone formation. We describe the case of an 18-year-old male who was admitted following intraabdominal trauma. He underwent extensive abdominal surgery including nephrectomy resulting in initiation of dialysis. After 6 months of hospitalization, the patient gradually began developing uptrending calcium levels. Imaging and laboratory workup were unremarkable for any PTH-mediated process, malignancy, thyroid disorder, adrenal disorder, or infection. Workup did reveal significant elevated bone turnover markers which in combination with the clinical history led the physicians to arrive at the diagnosis of immobilization induced hypercalcemia. In order to prevent decreased rates of bone loss, the patient was administered denosumab for treatment. Hypocalcemia followed treatment expectedly and was repleted with supplementation via the patient’s total parenteral nutrition.

Learning points

  • Immobilization-induced hypercalcemia should remain as a differential diagnosis of patients with prolonged hospitalizations with hypercalcemia.

  • Extensive workup of common etiologies of hypercalcemia should be considered prior to arriving at this diagnosis.

  • Denosumab, while off-label for this usage, offers an effective treatment option for immobilization-induced hypercalcemia though it carries a risk of hypocalcemia especially among patients with renal disease.

Open access

Emir Muzurović, Sanja Medenica, Milovan Kalezić, and Siniša Pavlović

Summary

We present a 54-year-old patient admitted to the emergency department due to loss of consciousness. The initial ECG registered monomorphic ventricular extrasystoles and prolonged QT interval (QT corrected (QTc) >500 ms). Sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) was registered on 24-h Holter ECG monitoring, which clinically was presented as a crisis of consciousness. Coronary angiography and other visualization methods were normal. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implantation was planned for the purpose of secondary prevention of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Laboratory and hormonal analyzes revealed primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT), chronic kidney disease, and hypokalemia. Neck ultrasound showed a 25 mm, sharply outlined homogenous tumor mass which was separated from thyroid gland (TG) and exerted a mild impression on lower parts of the left lobe. Dual wash technetium-99m sestamibi parathyroid scintigraphy with single-photon emission CT (SPECT)/CT also showed the uptake of tracer behind the lower half of the left lobe of the TG. Surgical treatment, lower left parathyroidectomy, was performed, and pathohistological analysis verified parathyroid adenoma. The patient was rhythmically and hemodynamically stable for 7 days after surgery, without additional complaints, and was discharged from the hospital. Timely diagnosis of PHPT, correct assessment and surgical treatment, did not lead our patient to unnecessary ICD implantation. Our case suggests an additional intertwining of electrolyte disorders and ventricular arrhythmias in PHPT and more importantly emphasizes the need for caution when indicating ICD, even in patients with the most serious life-threatening arrhythmias.

Learning points

  • Electrolyte abnormalities in PHPT can have highly malignant consequences, and the occurrence of hypokalemia in the presence of hypercalcemia is underestimated in PHPT, and the consequences can be life-threatening.

  • Although hypercalcemia causes shortened QT interval, concomitant severe hypokalemia may overcome hypercalcemia and prolong QT interval, even in the absence of structural heart disease or LQTS.

  • Timely diagnosis of PHPT, correct assessment and surgical treatment, do not lead to unnecessary ICD implantation.

Open access

John Alexander and Dinesh Nagi

Summary

Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is a disease caused by overactive parathyroid glands with consequent hypercalcaemia. The main cause in 85–90% of the cases is the presence of a solitary parathyroid adenoma. The most common presentation is with asymptomatic hypercalcaemia diagnosed on routine biochemical testing. Although low serum phosphate levels are an associated finding in primary hyperparathyroidism, the diagnostic criteria for PHPT remain to be hypercalcaemia, high or inappropriately normal PTH and hypercalciuria. This case report presents a patient who presented with low phosphate levels without any other biochemical evidence of PHPT, who returned several years later with overt primary hyperparathyroidism. This report intends to raise interest among the medical fraternity whether there is a need to consider hypophosphataemia as an early sign of PHPT.

Learning points

  • Primary hyperparathyroidism is a relatively common condition with varying clinical and biochemical presentation.

  • The most common presentations still remain as an asymptomatic biochemical abnormality closely related to calcium, PTH and bone metabolism.

  • Not much attention is usually given to associated biochemical abnormalities, and hence they are usually less investigated.

  • Further research is needed to establish if patients need long-term monitoring when no obvious cause for isolated hypophosphataemia has been found.

Open access

Natassia Rodrigo, Diana Learoyd, and Sarah J Glastras

Summary

Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon, with associated adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes for both the mother and the fetus. Determination of causality is central to its management. Diagnostic imaging techniques are limited during pregnancy and the diagnosis is made more complex by physiological changes in calcium and vitamin D homeostasis in pregnancy. Further, therapeutic options are limited due to safety considerations for the pregnant woman and the developing foetus. Three cases of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy will be presented, highlighting the distinct aetiologies and management strategies for hypercalcaemia in pregnancy and the importance of early measurement of serum calcium in pregnancy screening.

Learning points

  • There are complex physiological changes in calcium balance in pregnancy, including increased calcium intestinal absorption and renal excretion.

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon but has important potential maternal and foetal complications, making a compelling argument for routine antenatal, calcium screening.

  • Identifying the cause of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be challenging due to the complex placental interplay in biochemical test interpretation and due to safety constraints restricting imaging and surgery.

  • Acute medical management of hypercalcaemia must be considered in the context of both maternal and foetal well-being, along with gestational age and specific consideration for the safety of the developing fetus in late gestation.

Open access

Seong Keat Cheah, Chad Ramese Bisambar, Deborah Pitfield, Olivier Giger, Rogier ten Hoopen, Jose-Ezequiel Martin, Graeme R Clark, Soo-Mi Park, Craig Parkinson, Benjamin G Challis, and Ruth T Casey

Summary

A 38-year-old female was identified as carrying a heterozygous pathogenic MEN1 variant (c.1304delG) through predictive genetic testing, following a diagnosis of familial hyperparathyroidism. Routine screening for parathyroid and pituitary disease was negative. However, cross-sectional imaging by CT revealed a 41 mm pancreatic tail mass. Biopsy via endoscopic ultrasound confirmed the lesion to be a well-differentiated (grade 1) pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) with MIB1<1%. Biochemically, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was confirmed following an overnight fast, which was subsequently managed by diet alone prior to definitive surgery. Pre-operative work-up with octreotide SPECT CT demonstrated avid tracer uptake in the pancreatic lesion and, unexpectedly, a focal area of uptake in the left breast. Further investigation, and subsequent mastectomy, confirmed ductal carcinoma in situ pT2 (23 mm) grade 1, N0 (ER positive; HER2 negative). Following mastectomy, our patient underwent a successful distal pancreatectomy to resect the pNET. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 locus was found in both the breast tumour and pNET, thereby in keeping with a 'two-hit' hypothesis of oncogenesis, a suggestive but non-definitive clue for causation. To obtain further support for a causative relationship between MEN1 and breast cancer, we undertook a detailed review of the published literature which overall supports the notion that breast cancer is a MEN1-related malignancy that presents at a younger age and histologically, is typically of ductal subtype. Currently, clinical guidance regarding breast cancer surveillance in MEN1 does not exist and further research is required to establish a clinical and cost-effective surveillance strategy).

Learning points

  • We describe a case of pNET and breast cancer diagnosed at a young age of 38 years in a patient who is heterozygous for a pathogenic MEN1 variant. Loss of the wild-type allele was seen in both breast tissue and pNET specimen.

  • Breast cancer may be an under-recognised MEN1-associated malignancy that presents at a younger age than in the general population with a relative risk of 2–3.

  • Further research is required to determine the cost-effectiveness of breast cancer surveillance approach at a younger age in MEN1 patients relative to the general population .

Open access

Ben Wilkinson, Sharifah Faradila Wan Muhamad Hatta, Andrew Garnham, and Harit N Buch

Summary

Primary hyperparathyroidism requires a surgical approach to achieve a long-term cure. However, post-surgical recurrence significantly complicates the management of this condition. A number of causes for recurrent disease are well understood and several diagnostic modalities exist to localise the culprit parathyroid adenoma although none of them is efficacious in localisation of the recurrent lesion. In this case report, we highlight a novel causative mechanism and describe a unique diagnostic sequence that enabled curative treatment to be delivered.

Learning points

  • In the case described herein, we describe a novel location for a parathyroid adenoma causing recurrent PHPT. The case elucidates well the difficulties presented by such cases in terms of surgical planning and show the utility of PVS in such cases. Based on this case, we make the following recommendations:

  • Meticulous care must be taken to prevent seeding of adenomatous tissue during primary excision.

  • To consider the use of PVS in patients with discordant imaging in the setting of recurrent/persistent PHPT as a method to localise the causative adenoma.

  • Same day PVS and surgery is a viable option for patients who either represent an anaesthetic risk or who are extremely anxious about the prospect of two separate procedures.

  • Disordered calcium homeostasis is an important but forgotten cause of dysphagia which can be extremely debilitating for affected patients.

Open access

Dalal Ali, Patrick Divilly, Ruth Prichard, Dermot O’Toole, Donal O’Shea, and Rachel K Crowley

Summary

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is a rare inherited endocrine disorder with a high rate of penetrance. The incidence of MEN1 is 1/30,000 in the general population; however, it is quite rare for a patient to present for medical attention with MEN1 for the first time in pregnancy. Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is one of the most common features of MEN1. The incidence of PHPT occurring in pregnancy is 1%. Despite advances in the medical, surgical and obstetric care over the years, management of this condition during pregnancy may be challenging. It can be difficult to identify pregnant women with PHPT requiring intervention and to monitor safely. Hypercalcemia can result in significant maternal and fetal adverse outcomes including: miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm delivery, neonatal hypocalcaemia, pre-eclampsia and maternal nephrolithiasis. Herein, we present a case study of a lady with a strong family history of MEN1, who was biochemically proven to have PHPT and evidence of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome (ZE) on endoscopy. This patient delayed her assisted pregnancy plans for in vitro fertilization (IVF) until completion of the MEN1 workup; nevertheless, she spontaneously achieved an unplanned pregnancy. As a result, she required intervention with parathyroidectomy in the second trimester of her pregnancy as her calcium level continued to rise. This case study highlights the workup, follow up and management of MEN1 presenting with PHPT and ZE in pregnancy.

Learning points

  • Women of childbearing age who are suspected to have a diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism ideally should have genetic testing and avoid pregnancy until definitive plans are in place.

  • Zollinger Ellison syndrome in pregnancy means off-label use of high dose of proton pump inhibitors (PPI). Use of PPI in pregnancy is considered to be safe based on retrospective studies. Omeprazole, however, is FDA class C drug because of lack of large prospective studies or large case series during pregnancy.

  • Calcium supplements in the form of calcium carbonate must be converted to calcium chloride by gastric acid in order to be absorbed, however, patients rendered achlorhydric as a result of PPI use will have impaired absorption of calcium. Therefore, use of calcium citrate might be considered a better option in this case.

Open access

Joana Lima Ferreira, Francisco Simões de Carvalho, Ana Paula Marques, and Rosa Maria Príncipe

Summary

Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (APS-1) is a very rare autoimmune entity, accounting for about 400 cases reported worldwide. It is characterized by the presence of at least two of three cardinal components: chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC), hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease. It typically manifests in childhood with CMC and years later with hypoparathyroidism. A 50-year-old man was referred to the Endocrinology outpatient clinic due to irregular follow-up of primary hypoparathyroidism diagnosed at age 7. Previous analysis reported frequent fluctuations of calcium and phosphate levels and persistent hypercalciuria. He presented several comorbidities, including bilateral cataracts, other ocular disorders, transient alopecia and chronic gastritis. Due to weight loss, fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints and the findings at objective examination, Addison’s disease and CMC were investigated and confirmed. Antifungal therapy and hormonal replacement were started with evident clinical improvement. Regarding hypoparathyroidism, calcium-phosphate product decreased and other extraskeletal calcifications were diagnosed, such as nephrolithiasis and in basal ganglia. Further evaluation by genetic analysis revealed homozygosity for a frameshift mutation considered to be a pathogenic variant. It was reported only in two Asian siblings in compound heterozygosity. This case highlights the broad phenotypic spectrum of APS-1 and the significative intra-familial phenotype variability. A complete clinical history taking and high index of suspicion allowed the diagnosis of this rare entity. This case clarifies the need for regular long-term follow-up. In the specific case of hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease in combination, the management of APS-1 can be complex.

Learning points:

  • Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (APS-1) is a deeply heterogeneous genetic entity with a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations and a significant intra-family phenotypic variability.

  • Early diagnosis of APS-1 is challenging but clinically relevant, as endocrine and non-endocrine manifestations may occur during its natural history.

  • APS-1 should be considered in cases of acquired hypoparathyroidism, and even more so with manifestations with early onset, family history and consanguinity.

  • APS-1 diagnosis needs a high index of suspicion. Key information such as all the comorbidities and family aspects would never be valued in the absence of a complete clinical history taking.

  • Especially in hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease in combination, the management of APS-1 can be complex and is not a matter of simply approaching individually each condition.

  • Regular long-term monitoring of APS-1 is essential. Intercalary contact by phone calls benefits the control of the disease and the management of complications.

Open access

Annabel S Jones, Annabelle M Warren, Leon A Bach, and Shoshana Sztal-Mazer

Summary

Conventional treatment of hypoparathyroidism relies on oral calcium and calcitriol. Challenges in managing post-parathyroid- and post-thyroidectomy hypocalcaemia in patients with a history of bariatric surgery and malabsorption have been described, but postoperative management of bariatric surgery in patients with established hypoparathyroidism has not. We report the case of a 46-year-old woman who underwent elective sleeve gastrectomy on a background of post-surgical hypoparathyroidism and hypothyroidism. Multiple gastric perforations necessitated an emergency Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. She was transferred to a tertiary ICU and remained nil orally for 4 days, whereupon her ionised calcium level was 0.78 mmol/L (1.11–1.28 mmol/L). Continuous intravenous calcium infusion was required. She remained nil orally for 6 months due to abdominal sepsis and the need for multiple debridements. Intravenous calcium gluconate 4.4 mmol 8 hourly was continued and intravenous calcitriol twice weekly was added. Euthyroidism was achieved with intravenous levothyroxine. Maintaining normocalcaemia was fraught with difficulties in a patient with pre-existing surgical hypoparathyroidism, where oral replacement was impossible. The challenges in managing hypoparathyroidism in the setting of impaired enteral absorption are discussed with analysis of the cost and availability of parenteral treatments.

Learning points:

  • Management of hypoparathyroidism is complicated when gastrointestinal absorption is impaired.

  • Careful consideration should be given before bariatric surgery in patients with pre-existing hypoparathyroidism, due to potential difficulty in managing hypocalcaemia, which is exacerbated when complications occur.

  • While oral treatment of hypoparathyroidism is cheap and relatively simple, available parenteral options can carry significant cost and necessitate a more complicated dosing schedule.

  • International guidelines for the management of hypoparathyroidism recommend the use of PTH analogues where large doses of calcium and calcitriol are required, including in gastrointestinal disorders with malabsorption.

  • Approval of subcutaneous recombinant PTH for hypoparathyroidism in Australia will alter future management.

Open access

Satyanarayana V Sagi, Hareesh Joshi, Jamie Trotman, Terence Elsey, Ashwini Swamy, Jeyanthy Rajkanna, Nazir A Bhat, Firas J S Haddadin, Samson O Oyibo, and Soo-Mi Park

Summary

Familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) is a dominantly inherited, lifelong benign disorder characterised by asymptomatic hypercalcaemia, relative hypocalciuria and variable parathyroid hormone levels. It is caused by loss-of-function pathogenic variants in the calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) gene. Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is characterised by variable hypercalcaemia in the context of non-suppressed parathyroid hormone levels. Unlike patients with FHH, patients with severe hypercalcaemia due to PHPT are usually symptomatic and are at risk of end-organ damage affecting the kidneys, bone, heart, gastrointestinal system and CNS. Surgical resection of the offending parathyroid gland(s) is the treatment of choice for PHPT, while dietary adjustment and reassurance is the mainstay of management for patients with FHH. The occurrence of both FHH and primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in the same patient has been described. We report an interesting case of FHH due to a novel CASR variant confirmed in a mother and her two daughters and the possible coexistence of FHH and PHPT in the mother, highlighting the challenges involved in diagnosis and management.

Learning points:

  • Familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) and primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) can coexist in the same patient.

  • Urinary calcium creatinine clearance ratio can play a role in distinguishing between PHPT and FHH.

  • Genetic testing should be considered in managing patients with PHPT and FHH where the benefit may extend to the wider family.

  • Family segregation studies can play an important role in the reclassification of variants of uncertain significance.

  • Parathyroidectomy has no benefit in patients with FHH and therefore, it is important to exclude FHH prior to considering surgery.

  • For patients with coexisting FHH and PHPT, parathyroidectomy will reduce the risk of complications from the severe hypercalcaemia associated with PHPT.