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Open access

Sophie Bondje, Camilla Barnes, and Felicity Kaplan

Summary

Milk–alkali syndrome (MAS) is a triad of hypercalcaemia, metabolic alkalosis and renal insufficiency. In this study, we present a case of milk–alkali syndrome secondary to concurrent use of over-the-counter (OTC) calcium carbonate-containing antacid tablets (Rennie®) for dyspepsia and calcium carbonate with vitamin D3 (Adcal D3) for osteoporosis. A 72-year-old woman presented with a 2-day history of nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, constipation, lethargy and mild delirium. Past medical history included osteoporosis treated with daily Adcal D3. Initial blood tests showed elevated serum-adjusted calcium of 3.77 mmol/L (normal range, 2.2–2.6) and creatinine of 292 µmol/L (45–84) from a baseline of 84. This was corrected with i.v. pamidronate and i.v. fluids. She developed asymptomatic hypocalcaemia and rebound hyperparathyroidism. Myeloma screen, vasculitis screen and serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) were normal, while the CT of the chest, abdomen and pelvis showed renal stones but no malignancy. A bone marrow biopsy showed no evidence of malignancy. Once the delirium resolved, we established that prior to admission, she had been excessively self-medicating with over-the-counter antacids (Rennie®) as required for epigastric pain. The increasing use of calcium preparations for the management of osteoporosis in addition to easily available OTC dyspepsia preparations has made MAS the third most common cause of hypercalcaemia hospitalisations. Educating patients and healthcare professionals on the risks associated with these seemingly safe medications is required. Appropriate warning labels on both calcium preparations used in the management of osteoporosis and OTC calcium-containing preparations would prevent further similar cases and unnecessary morbidity and hospital admission.

Learning points

What is known?

  • An association between high-dose calcium supplementation and hypercalcaemia crisis has been seen in case studies.

  • After as little as 1 week of excessive calcium carbonate ingestion, patients can present with symptomatic hypercalcemia, acute renal failure and metabolic alkalosis ().

  • Women aged 50 and younger need 1 g of calcium per day, while aged 51 and older need 1.2 g ().

  • Although the amount of calcium required for MASis generally thought to be more than 4 g per day, there have been reports at intakes as low as 1.0–1.5 g per day in pre-existing risk factors including renal impairment ().

What this study adds?

  • The danger of excessive ingestion of antacid is not adequately highlighted to prescribers and patients.

  • Appropriate warning labels on OTC calcium-containing preparations could prevent unnecessary morbidity and hospital admission.

Open access

Yudi Camacho, Yusra Jamal, Andy Wang, Patrick Chiarolanzio, and Gayotri Goswami

Summary

Mass effect from a goiter is a serious complication with potentially life-threatening consequences. In rare instances, a goiter can compress nearby vessels, compromising cerebral blood flow, which can lead to an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes generally occur due to atherogenic or embolic phenomenon, albeit a rare etiology can be due to a mechanical obstruction of great vessels of the neck that provide blood supply to the brain. An unusual example of a similar obstruction is the mass effect of an expansive goiter on the carotid artery (CA) in the neck. We present a rare case of a 90-year-old female who had a historically untreated goiter for 13 years. She presented with symptoms of acute stroke, including right-sided weakness and dysarthria. CT angiogram of the neck revealed a massively enlarged thyroid gland causing compression and intermittent obstruction of the blood flow in the left common CA. Subsequently, the patient underwent a total thyroidectomy. Postoperatively, she had a remarkable recovery of her symptoms of right-sided weakness and dysarthria. Acknowledging stroke as a grave mechanical complication of a large multinodular goiter is crucial for timely and appropriate management to avoid serious consequences.

Learning points

  • The natural history of euthyroid multinodular goiters include progressive, abnormal goiter which occurs when it obstructs the carotid artery (CA) and compromises cerebral blood flow.

  • Timely diagnosis and surgical management of an enlarging goiter compressing the CA can reduce morbidity from an ischemic stroke.

  • Ischemic stroke is a rare and dangerous complication of a giant multinodular goiter.

Open access

Mone Murashita, Norio Wada, Shuhei Baba, Hajime Sugawara, Arina Miyoshi, and Shinji Obara

Summary

We report a 26-year-old Japanese man who visited our outpatient clinic presenting fever immediately after i.m. injection of the second dose of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine (Moderna®). At the first visit, the patient had a fever of 37.7°C and a swollen thyroid gland with mild tenderness. He was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis (SAT) based on the presence of thyrotoxicosis (free tri-iodothyronine, 32.3 pg/mL; free thyroxine, >7.77 ng/dL; and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) < 0.01 μIU/mL), high C-reactive protein level (7.40 mg/dL), negative TSH receptor antibody, and characteristic ultrasound findings. His HLA types were A*02:01/24:02, B*15:11/35:01, Cw*03:03, DRB1*09:01/12:01, DQB1*03:03, and DPB1*05: 01/41:01. He was initially administered prednisolone 15 mg/day, following which the fever subsided. After 10 days, he developed limb weakness and could not walk. The serum potassium level decreased to 1.8 mEq/L, which confirmed the diagnosis of thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP). Potassium supplementation was initiated. The muscle weakness gradually decreased. Prednisolone therapy was terminated 6 weeks after the first visit. His thyroid function returned to normal 5 months after the first visit, through a hypothyroid state. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of TPP-associated SAT following COVID-19 vaccination. Persistent fever following vaccination should be suspected of SAT. Additionally, TPP may be associated with SAT in Asian male patients.

Learning points

  • Following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination, subacute thyroiditis may develop regardless of the vaccine type.

  • If persistent fever, anterior neck pain, swelling and tenderness of thyroid gland, and symptoms of thyrotoxicosis are observed immediately after the COVID-19 vaccination, examination in consideration of the onset of subacute thyroiditis is recommended.

  • HLA-B35 may be associated with the onset of subacute thyroiditis after the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Although rare, subacute thyroiditis can be associated with thyrotoxic periodic paralysis, especially in Asian men.

  • Glucocorticoid therapy for subacute thyroiditis may induce thyrotoxic periodic paralysis through hypokalemia.

Open access

Jay Nguyen and Dennis Joseph

Summary

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) can present with symptoms of headache, vomiting, visual changes, and tinnitus. Papilledema may be seen on physical exam. Thyroid disease has been a rare secondary cause of increased ICP. We present a 16-year-old female who had a worsening headache for 6 months. She was found to have signs, symptoms, physical exam findings, and diagnostic studies consistent with both increased ICP and previously undiagnosed Graves’ disease. The patient was treated with a 19-month course of methimazole 40 mg daily. Her headache and papilledema resolved shortly after medication initiation. The timeline of symptoms and resolution of her increased ICP symptoms with treatment of Graves’ disease suggests that hyperthyroidism was the underlying cause of her increased ICP. Clinicians should consider Graves’ disease as the etiology in pediatric patients presenting with signs and symptoms of increased ICP with papilledema.

Learning points

  • Symptoms of increased intracranial pressure (ICP) include headache, vomiting, transient visual changes, and tinnitus.

  • Secondary causes of increased ICP should be considered in males, young children, older patients, and those not overweight.

  • Clinicians should consider Graves’ disease as the etiology in pediatric patients presenting with signs and symptoms of increased ICP with papilledema. They should assess for orbitopathy and thyromegaly and inquire about symptoms that would be indicative of hyperthyroidism.

Open access

Nyasatu G Chamba, Abid M Sadiq, Norman J Kyala, Joachim E Mosha, Ibrahim A Muhina, Fuad H Said, and Elichilia R Shao

Summary

Myxedema coma is a severe complication of hypothyroidism, commonly affecting women over 60 years of age, causing slow, progressive multi-organ dysfunction, and mental deterioration. Due to improved diagnostics and treatment of hypothyroidism, myxedema coma has become uncommon. However, it is hardly reported in resource-limited settings. We present an elderly female with a history of total thyroidectomy due to multi-nodular goiter. She presented with features of heart failure, excessive weight gain, and cold sensation. Although the patient was on levothyroxine replacement therapy, her laboratory tests were suggestive of overt primary hypothyroidism. During the course of her hospitalization, she developed subcutaneous bleeding with frank hematuria. This led to an altered mental state and hypotension that were suggestive of myxedema coma. Stroke and pulmonary embolism were ruled out as potential differential diagnoses of her current state. She was treated with a high dose of oral levothyroxine followed by 150 μg of oral levothyroxine daily, which resulted in a favorable outcome despite being a fatal emergency. She was also treated with intravenous hydrocortisone and furosemide. Oral thyroid hormone replacement may be an effective option in those resource-limited settings where intravenous thyroid hormone replacement is not available. However, early diagnosis and treatment with an adequate dose of thyroid hormones are crucial to achieve a favorable outcome.

Learning points

  • Myxedema coma is an uncommon complication of hypothyroidism with a fatal outcome.

  • The diagnosis of myxedema coma is based on clinical suspicion, especially in patients with hypothyroidism and in the presence of precipitating factors. Although diagnostic and scoring criteria based on clinical, laboratory, and imaging features have been proposed, no consensus has been reached.

  • This article shows an alternative treatment option for myxedema coma using oral levothyroxine, which led to a favorable outcome.

Open access

Wanling Zeng, Sophie Tan, and Thomas Frederick James King

Summary

We report a case of subacute thyroiditis in a 40-year-old female who initially presented with painful thyroid nodules without clinical and biochemical evidence of hyperthyroidism. Thyroid ultrasound was done to evaluate the thyroid nodules and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) was performed in view of the suspicious features. As the FNA showed a follicular lesion of undetermined significance or atypia of undetermined significance (FLUS/AUS, Bethesda III), she was advised for surgical excision. She was subsequently diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis based on her clinical symptoms, biochemical evidence of hyperthyroidism, raised erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) as well as low uptake on thyroid scintigraphy. The thyroid lesions disappeared after symptomatic treatment. It is important to recognise that subacute thyroiditis can present with painful thyroid lesions with ultrasound features similar to suspicious thyroid nodules which can resolve with the resolution of the thyroiditis.

Learning points

  • Subacute thyroiditis can present with atypical features such as the absence of pain, normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate or absence of hyperthyroidism.

  • In subacute thyroiditis, ultrasound findings are commonly described as focal or multifocal lesions with poorly defined and heterogeneous and hypoechoic echogenicity which can be misdiagnosed as malignancy.

  • Thyroid lesions can resolve with the resolution of thyroiditis with or without symptomatic treatment.

Open access

Jay Nguyen and Dennis Joseph

Summary

Autonomous thyroid adenomas are caused by activating mutations in the genes encoding the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) or mutations in the Gas subunit of the TSHR. Nodules with suspicious sonographic features should be submitted to fine-needle aspiration. Additional molecular testing may be performed to characterize the thyroid nodule’s malignant potential further. We present a patient who underwent whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing that indicated a TSHR I568T mutation after an ultrasound showed suspicious sonographic features and fine-needle aspiration was ‘suspicious for malignancy’. The patient underwent thyroid resection and was found to have a locally invasive classical papillary thyroid carcinoma. Most reports of TSHR I568T mutation have been seen in patients with benign thyroid conditions. While there is insufficient data to suggest that the TSHR I568T mutation causes aggressive thyroid malignancy, we believe clinicians who identify the presence of this mutation on genome sequencing should be cautious about the possibility of locally invasive thyroid malignancy, especially when associated with Bethesda V cytopathology.

Learning points

  • Germline and somatic activating mutations in the genes coding for the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) have been frequently reported in familial and sporadic autonomous thyroid adenomas and non-autoimmune hyperthyroidism.

  • Most reports of TSHR I568T mutation have been detected in patients with benign thyroid conditions.

  • We present a patient who underwent whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing that indicated a TSHR I568T mutation and subsequently underwent thyroid resection and was found to have a locally invasive classical papillary thyroid carcinoma.

  • Clinicians who identify the presence of TSHR I568T mutation on genome sequencing should be cautious about the possibility of locally invasive thyroid malignancy, especially when associated with Bethesda V cytopathology.

Open access

Ricaurte Crespo-Trevino, Jade Schiffman, Shoaib Ugradar, Kimberly Cockerham, Raymond Douglas, David de Leon-Garza, and Rosa Tang

Summary

Thyroid dermopathy is an uncommon manifestation of thyroid disease that impairs the quality of life in certain cases. Currently, the available treatments offer limited results and a chance of recurrence. Teprotumumab, a novel medication that results in the regression of thyroid ophthalmopathy, may have similar effects on dermopathy. We describe four patients treated with teprotumumab for their thyroid ophthalmopathy who concomitantly had dermatopathy upon initiation of their infusions. Patients improved after two to three infusions and three out of the four patients have not suffered a recurrence.Teprotumumab is a monoclonal antibody (MAB) that attenuates an inflammatory response, resulting in decreased edema and tissue expansion. Given the similarities of their pathophysiology, we believe that the resolution of thyroid dermatopathy and regression of thyroid eye disease occurs via the same mechanism. We encourage further investigation utilizing teprotumumab for patients whose dermopathy is associated with impaired quality of life.

Learning points

  • Thyroid dermopathy (TD), an uncommon manifestation of thyroid disease, may occasionally impair function and quality of life.

  • There are only a few treatments for TD, with limited results and high rates of recurrence.

  • Teprotumumab is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication used for thyroid eye disease (TED).

  • Our patients treated with teprotumumab for TED showed improvement of TD, which demonstrates its potential use for this condition.

Open access

Liza Das, Usha Singh, Bhanu Malhotra, Sanjay Kumar Bhadada, Pulkit Rastogi, Paramjeet Singh, Pinaki Dutta, and Sameeksha Tadepalli

Summary

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is the most common extra-thyroidal manifestation in Graves’ disease (GD). Additional/concurrent/synchronous pathologies may be present, especially in elderly patients who present with atypical features such as non-axial (or eccentric) proptosis, absence of lid lag and restricted superior extra-ocular movements. A 70-year-old female presented with progressive proptosis of her left eye and diplopia. She was diagnosed with GD a year prior and initiated on carbimazole. On examination, she had eccentric proptosis, restricted superior extra-ocular movements and a palpable mass in the supero-temporal quadrant of the left eye. Her T3 (1.33 ng/mL) and T4 (8.85 µg/dL) were normal with carbimazole. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-receptor antibody was positive (3.15 IU/L, reference range <1.75). MRI revealed an enhancing lesion infiltrating the left superior rectus, with concurrent characteristic muscle belly involvement bilaterally. Orbital biopsy showed atypical lymphoid cells (CD20+), suggesting marginal zone lymphoma. CT thorax and abdomen, fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and bone marrow examination were normal. The patient was administered orbital radiotherapy for her localised lymphoma and carbimazole was continued. TED is the most common cause of orbital involvement overall and in GD. However, additional or alternative pathology may be present which requires evaluation. MRI can be a useful adjunct in these patients. Orbital lymphoma needs to be staged with workup for disseminated disease. Radiotherapy is the treatment of choice for localized disease. The index case provides evidence for synchronous presentation of dual pathology and highlights the importance of astute clinical examination as well as keeps a low threshold for MRI in selected cases.

Learning points

  • Thyroid eye disease can co-exist with other ocular pathology, especially in elderly individuals.

  • Eccentric proptosis, absent lid lag and restriction of eye movements (suggesting tendon involvement) should alert towards the presence of alternative pathology.

  • Orbital imaging using MRI not only has greater sensitivity in diagnosing radiologically bilateral disease in patients who have unilateral involvement clinically but is also useful to identify concurrent neoplasms.

Open access

Clara Cunha, Eugénia Silva, Ana Cláudia Vieira, Catarina Saraiva, and Sequeira Duarte

Summary

Immunotherapy has become an important pillar for the management of advanced cancer. Immune-related adverse events including endocrinopathies have been well described with programmed cell death 1 inhibitors such as pembrolizumab. While thyroid dysfunction is the most common endocrinopathy associated with pembrolizumab, new-onset autoimmune diabetes mellitus (DM) is extremely rare. The authors report a case of pembrolizumab-induced primary hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes mellitus presenting with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). A 59-year-old female patient was treated with pembrolizumab for a stage 4 lung adenocarcinoma. She presented to the emergency department with hyperglycaemia-related signs and symptoms, such as polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss, vomiting, asthenia and dehydration, 3 weeks after her first dose of pembrolizumab. Laboratory evaluation revealed hyperglycaemia, hyperketonaemia and high anion gap metabolic acidaemia consistent with DKA. After prompt and adequate treatment of DKA, she transitioned to s.c. basal-bolus insulin. The diagnose of autoimmune DM was established based on the undetectable C-peptide levels and seropositivity for antiglutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies. Additional hormonal parameters revealed overt hypothyroidism and levothyroxine therapy was initiated. This case highlights the importance of blood glucose and thyroid function monitoring as an integral part of cancer treatment protocols for pembrolizumab and other immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Learning points

  • Programmed cell death 1 (PD1) inhibitors such as pembrolizumab can cause endocrine immune-related adverse events (irAE), including thyroid dysfunction and type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

  • Thyroid dysfunction is the most frequent endocrine irAE secondary to PD1 inhibitors.

  • Autoimmune diabetes and possible resultant diabetic ketoacidosis are rare, but life-threatening adverse events associated with pembrolizumab.

  • Pembrolizumab-induced T1DM often present with relatively low HbAlc levels, reflecting the fulminant onset of β-cell destruction.

  • Patients treated with pembrolizumab and other immune checkpoints inhibitors should be monitored regularly for hyperglycaemia and thyroid dysfunction.