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Open access

Khaled Aljenaee, Osamah Hakami, Colin Davenport, Gemma Farrell, Tommy Kyaw Tun, Agnieszka Pazderska, Niamh Phelan, Marie-Louise Healy, Seamus Sreenan and John H McDermott

Summary

Measurement of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) has been utilised in assessing long-term control of blood glucose in patients with diabetes, as well as diagnosing diabetes and identifying patients at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future. HbA1c reflects the level of blood glucose to which the erythrocyte has been exposed during its lifespan, and there are a number of clinical situations affecting the erythrocyte life span in which HbA1c values may be spuriously high or low and therefore not reflective of the true level of glucose control. In the present case series, we describe the particulars of three patients with diabetes who had spuriously low HbA1c levels as a result of dapsone usage. Furthermore, we discuss the limitations of HbA1c testing and the mechanisms by which it may be affected by dapsone in particular.

Learning points:

  • Various conditions and medications can result in falsely low HbA1c.
  • Dapsone can lead to falsely low HbA1c by inducing haemolysis and by forming methaemoglobin.
  • Capillary glucose measurement, urine glucose measurements and fructosamine levels should be used as alternatives to HbA1c for monitoring glycaemic control if it was falsely low or high.
Open access

Huilin Koh, Manish Kaushik, Julian Kenrick Loh and Chiaw Ling Chng

Summary

Thyroid storm with multi-organ failure limits the use of conventional treatment. A 44-year-old male presented with thyroid storm and experienced cardiovascular collapse after beta-blocker administration, with resultant fulminant multi-organ failure requiring inotropic support, mechanical ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and continuous renal replacement therapy. Hepatic and renal failure precluded the use of conventional thyroid storm treatment and early plasma exchange was instituted. The patient underwent emergency thyroidectomy after four effective exchanges, with subsequent rapid reversal of multi-organ failure. The challenges of institution of plasma exchanges with ongoing ECMO support, dialysis and timing of thyroidectomy are discussed. This case highlights the important role of early therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) as an effective salvage therapy for lowering circulating hormones and stabilization of patients in preparation for emergency thyroidectomy in patients with thyroid storm and fulminant multi-organ failure.

Learning points:

  • Administration of beta-blockers in thyroid storm presenting with congestive cardiac failure may precipitate cardiovascular collapse due to inhibition of thyroid-induced hyperadrenergic compensation which maintains cardiac output.
  • TPE can be an effective bridging therapy to emergency total thyroidectomy when conventional thyroid storm treatment is contraindicated.
  • End-organ support using ECMO and CRRT can be combined with TPE effectively in the management of critically ill cases of thyroid storm.
  • The effectiveness of plasma exchange in lowering thyroid hormones appears to wane after 44–48 h of therapy in this case, highlighting the importance early thyroidectomy.
Open access

Ilan Rahmani Tzvi-Ran, Judith Olchowski, Merav Fraenkel, Asher Bashiri and Leonid Barski

Summary

A previously healthy 24-year-old female underwent an emergent caesarean section without a major bleeding described. During the first post-operative days (POD) she complained of fatigue, headache and a failure to lactate with no specific and conclusive findings on head CT. On the following days, fever rose with a suspicion of an obstetric surgery-related infection, again with no evidence to support the diagnosis. On POD5 a new-onset hyponatremia was documented. The urine analysis suggested SIADH, and following a treatment failure, further investigation was performed and demonstrated both central hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency. The patient was immediately treated with hydrocortisone followed by levothyroxine with a rapid resolution of symptoms and hyponatremia. Further laboratory investigation demonstrated anterior hypopituitarism. The main differential diagnosis was Sheehan’s syndrome vs lymphocytic hypophysitis. Brain MRI was performed as soon as it was available and findings consistent with Sheehan’s syndrome confirmed the diagnosis. Lifelong hormonal replacement therapy was initiated. Further complaints on polyuria and polydipsia have led to a water deprivation testing and the diagnosis of partial central insipidus and appropriate treatment with DDAVP.

Learning points:

  • Sheehan’s syndrome can occur, though rarely, without an obvious major post-partum hemorrhage.
  • The syndrome may resemble lymphocytic hypophysitis clinically and imaging studies may be crucial in order to differentiate both conditions.
  • Hypopituitarism presentation may be variable and depends on the specific hormone deficit.
  • Euvolemic hyponatremia workup must include thyroid function test and 08:00 AM cortisol levels.
Open access

Kewan Hamid, Neha Dayalani, Muhammad Jabbar and Elna Saah

Summary

A 6-year-old female presented with chronic intermittent abdominal pain for 1 year. She underwent extensive investigation, imaging and invasive procedures with multiple emergency room visits. It caused a significant distress to the patient and the family with multiple missing days at school in addition to financial burden and emotional stress the child endured. When clinical picture was combined with laboratory finding of macrocytic anemia, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism was made. Although chronic abdominal pain in pediatric population is usually due to functional causes such as irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine and functional abdominal pain. Hypothyroidism can have unusual presentation including abdominal pain. The literature on abdominal pain as the main presentation of thyroid disorder is limited. Pediatricians should exclude hypothyroidism in a patient who presents with chronic abdominal pain. Contrast to its treatment, clinical presentation of hypothyroidism can be diverse and challenging, leading to a delay in diagnosis and causing significant morbidity.

Learning points:

  • Hypothyroidism can have a wide range of clinical presentations that are often nonspecific, which can cause difficulty in diagnosis.
  • In pediatric patients presenting with chronic abdominal pain as only symptom, hypothyroidism should be considered by the pediatricians and ruled out.
  • In pediatric population, treatment of hypothyroidism varies depending on patients’ weight and age.
  • Delay in diagnosis of hypothyroidism can cause significant morbidity and distress in pediatrics population.
Open access

Chad Bisambar, Andrew Collier, Fraser Duthie and Carron Meney

Summary

A 40-year-old Caucasian female presented with hyperglycaemia, polyuria, polydipsia and weight loss of 6 kg over a 1-month period. There was no personal or family history of malignancy or diabetes mellitus. On examination, she was jaundiced with pale mucous membranes and capillary glucose was 23.1 mmol/L. Initial investigations showed iron deficiency anaemia and obstructive pattern of liver function tests. HbA1c was diagnostic of diabetes mellitus at 79 mmol/mol. Malignancy was suspected and CT chest, abdomen and pelvis showed significant dilatation of intra- and extra-hepatic biliary tree including pancreatic duct, with periampullary 30 mm mass lesion projecting into lumen of duodenum. Enlarged nodes were seen around the superior mesenteric artery. This was confirmed on MRI liver. Fasting gut hormones were normal except for a mildly elevated somatostatin level. Chromogranin A was elevated at 78 pmol/L with normal chromogranin B. Duodenoscopy and biopsy showed possible tubovillous adenoma with low-grade dysplasia, but subsequent endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy revealed a grade 1, well differentiated neuroendocrine tumour. The patient was started on insulin, transfused to Hb >8 g/dL and Whipple’s pancreatico-duodenectomy was undertaken. This showed a well-differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma arising in duodenum (Grade G1 with Ki67: 0.5%), with areas of chronic pancreatitis and preservation of pancreatic islet cells. There was complete resolution of diabetes post Whipple’s procedure and patient was able to come of insulin treatment. Her last HBA1C was 31 mmol/mol, 4 months post tumour resection.

Learning points:

  • Diabetes mellitus and malignancy can be related.
  • A high index of suspicion is needed when diabetes mellitus presents atypically.
  • Non-functional neuroendocrine tumours can present with diabetes mellitus.
Open access

Alessandro Mantovani, Ilaria Teobaldi, Vincenzo Stoico, Fabrizia Perrone, Marina Zannoni, Luca Cima, Massimiliano Bruti, Lucia Mingolla, Maddalena Trombetta and Enzo Bonora

Summary

After basal cell carcinoma, the cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is the second most frequent non-melanoma skin cancer worldwide, and, classically, arises from the upper coats of the epidermis of sun-exposed areas or from skin areas constantly exposed to a chronic inflammatory stimulus. The occurrence of cSCC seems to be linked to several factors, including exposure to sunlight (or other ultraviolet radiations), immunosuppression, chronic scarring conditions and some familial cancer syndromes. Although the majority of cSCCs are adequately eradicated by surgical excision, a subgroup of cSCC may be linked with an increased risk of recurrence, metastasis and death. The incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is constantly increasing worldwide. Importantly, diabetes mellitus is a strong risk factor for cancers (including cutaneous tumors) and is highly related with poor cancer outcomes. At present, in the literature, squamous cell carcinoma developing in association with diabetic foot ulcers has been already reported in some reports; however, additional data are needed to make the clinicians aware of this rare, although possible, complication. Therefore, we herein report an unusual case of an elderly man with T2DM and a positive oncological history, presenting a cSCC involving the skin overlying the first toe of left foot. The growing cSCC appeared approximately 3 years after the appearance of a diabetic ulcer.

Learning points:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers are an important and severe complication of diabetes mellitus and often can result in foot amputation.
  • Chronic and non-healing diabetic foot ulcers are often observed in clinical practice.
  • Clinicians should always take into consideration the malignant degeneration (e.g., cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma) of any chronic non-healing diabetic foot ulcer in elderly T2DM individuals.
  • Timely surgical resection of a chronic, non-healing diabetic foot ulcer might preclude the development of a cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
Open access

Su Ann Tee, Earn Hui Gan, Mohamad Zaher Kanaan, David Ashley Price, Tim Hoare and Simon H S Pearce

Summary

Primary adrenal insufficiency secondary to syphilis is extremely rare, with only five cases being reported in the literature. We report a case of adrenal insufficiency as a manifestation of Treponema pallidum infection (tertiary syphilis). A 69-year-old, previously fit and well Caucasian male was found to have adrenal insufficiency after being admitted with weight loss, anorexia and postural dizziness resulting in a fall. Biochemical testing showed hyponatraemia, hyperkalaemia, and an inadequate response to Synacthen testing, with a peak cortisol level of 302 nmol/L after administration of 250 µg Synacthen. Abdominal imaging revealed bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with inguinal and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy. He was started on hydrocortisone replacement; however, it was not until he re-attended ophthalmology with a red eye and visual loss 1 month later, that further work-up revealed the diagnosis of tertiary syphilis. Following a course of penicillin, repeat imaging 5 months later showed resolution of the abnormal radiological appearances. However, adrenal function has not recovered and 3 years following initial presentation, the patient remains on both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement. In conclusion, this case highlights the importance of considering syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis in patients presenting with adrenal insufficiency and bilateral adrenal masses, given the recent re-emergence of this condition. The relative ease of treating infectious causes of adrenal lesions makes accurate and timely diagnosis crucial.

Learning points:

  • Infectious causes, including syphilis, should be excluded before considering adrenalectomy or biopsy for any patient presenting with an adrenal mass.
  • It is important to perform a full infection screen including tests for human immunodeficiency virus, other blood-borne viruses and concurrent sexually transmitted diseases in patients presenting with bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with primary adrenal insufficiency.
  • Awareness of syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis is important, as it not only has a wide range of clinical presentations, but its prevalence has been increasing in recent times.
Open access

Tiago Nunes da Silva, M L F van Velthuysen, Casper H J van Eijck, Jaap J Teunissen, J Hofland and Wouter W de Herder

Summary

Non-functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) can present with advanced local or distant (metastatic) disease limiting the possibility of surgical cure. Several treatment options have been used in experimental neoadjuvant settings to improve the outcomes in such cases. Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PPRT) using beta emitting radiolabelled somatostatin analogues has been used in progressive pancreatic NETs. We report a 55-year-old female patient with a 12.8 cm pancreatic NET with significant local stomach and superior mesenteric vein compression and liver metastases. The patient underwent treatment with [177Lutetium-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotate (177Lu-octreotate) for the treatment of local and metastatic symptomatic disease. Six months after 4 cycles of 177lutetium-octreotate, resolution of the abdominal complaints was associated with a significant reduction in tumour size and the tumour was rendered operable. Histology of the tumour showed a 90% necrotic tumour with abundant hyalinized fibrosis and haemorrhage compatible with PPRT-induced radiation effects on tumour cells. This report supports that PPRT has a role in unresectable and metastatic pancreatic NET.

Learning points:

  • PRRT with 177Lu-octreotate can be considered a useful therapy for symptomatic somatostatin receptor-positive pancreatic NET.
  • The clinical benefits of PRRT with 177Lu-octreotate can be seen in the first months while tumour reduction can be seen up to a year after treatment.
  • PRRT with 177Lu-octreotate was clinically well tolerated and did not interfere with the subsequent surgical procedure.
  • PRRT with 177Lu-octreotate can result in significant tumour reduction and may improve surgical outcomes. As such, this therapy can be considered as a neoadjuvant therapy.
Open access

Takatoshi Anno, Hideaki Kaneto, Ryo Shigemoto, Fumiko Kawasaki, Yasuhiro Kawai, Noriyo Urata, Hirofumi Kawamoto, Kohei Kaku and Niro Okimoto

Summary

Hypoglycemia is induced by many causes, especially over-dose of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetic subjects. In such a case, hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia is usually observed. On the other hand, it is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in clinical practice. Herein, we experienced similar 2 cases of non-diabetic hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Both of them were elderly subjects with low body weight. Furthermore, it is likely that hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia in both subjects was triggered by severe liver injury, at least in part, due to possible limited liver glycogen store. In elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, metabolism in the liver is reduced and glycogen accumulation is decreased. Such alteration brings out acute and marked liver injury, which finally leads to the onset of severe hypoglycemia. It is known that not only liver injury but also multiple organ failure could be induced due to extreme emaciation in subjects. It is likely that in elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, multiple organ failure including liver failure could be induced due to the similar reason. Therefore, we should be very careful of such subjects in order to avoid the development of multiple organ failure which leads to life-threatening situations. In conclusion, we should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly or starving subjects with low body weight and limited liver glycogen stores.

Learning points:

  • It is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia.
  • Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in everyday clinical practice.
  • Herein, we reported similar 2 cases of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia without diabetes presumably triggered by severe liver injury.
  • In both cases, hypoglycemia was improved by glucose infusion, although their liver injury was not improved.
  • We should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly subjects with low body weight.
Open access

Ricardo A Macau, Tiago Nunes da Silva, Joana Rego Silva, Ana Gonçalves Ferreira and Pedro Bravo

Summary

Lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (Li-NDI) is a rare and difficult-to-treat condition. A study in mice and two recent papers describe the use of acetazolamide in Li-NDI in 7 patients (a case report and a 6 patient series). We describe the case of a 63-year-old woman with bipolar disorder treated with lithium and no previous history of diabetes insipidus. She was hospitalized due to a bowel obstruction and developed severe dehydration after surgery when she was water deprived. After desmopressin administration and unsuccessful thiazide and amiloride treatment, acetazolamide was administrated to control polyuria and hydroelectrolytic disorders without significant side effects. To our knowledge, this is the third publication on acetazolamide use in Li-NDI patients.

Learning points:

  • Treatment of lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus might be challenging.
  • Vasopressin, amiloride and thiazide diuretics have been used in lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus treatment.
  • Acetazolamide might be an option to treat lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus patients who fail to respond to standard treatment.
  • The use of acetazolamide in lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus must be monitored, including its effects on glomerular filtration rate.