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Open access

Maha Khalil Abass, Aisha Al Shamsi, Iftikhar Jan, Mohammed Suhail Yasin Masalawala, and Asma Deeb

Summary

The most frequent causes of pancreatitis classically have been known to be gallstones or alcohol. However, genetics can also play a key role in predisposing patients to both chronic and acute pancreatitis. The serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 1 (SPINK 1) gene is known to be strongly associated with pancreatitis. Patients with these underlying genetic mutations can have severe diseases with a high morbidity rate and frequent hospitalization. We report an Arab girl who presented with acute pancreatitis at the age of 7 years progressing to recurrent chronic pancreatitis over a few years. She had severe obesity from the age of 4 years and developed type 2 diabetes at the age of 12. She had a normal biliary system anatomy. Genetic analysis showed that she had combined heterozygous mutations in the SPINK1 gene (SPINK1, c.101A>G p.(Asn34Ser) and SPINK1, c.56-37T>C). Her parents were first-degree cousins, but neither had obesity. Mother was detected to have the same mutations. She had type 2 diabetes but never presented with pancreatitis. This case is the first to be reported from the Arab region with these combined mutations leading to recurrent chronic pancreatitis. It illustrates the importance of diagnosing the underlying genetic mutation in the absence of other known causes of pancreatitis. Considering the absence of pancreatitis history in the mother who did not have obesity but harboured the same mutations, we point out that severe obesity might be a triggering factor of pancreatitis in the presence of the mutations in SPINK1 gene in this child. While this is not an assumption from a single patient, we show that not all carriers of this mutation develop the disease even within the same family. Triggering factors like severe obesity might have a role in developing the disease.

Learning points

  • Acute recurrent pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis are uncommon in children but might be underdiagnosed.

  • Biliary tract anomalies and dyslipidaemias are known causative factors for pancreatitis, but pancreatitis can be seen in children with intact biliary system.

  • Genetic diagnosis should be sought in children with pancreatitis in the absence of known underlying predisposing factors.

  • SPINK1 mutations can predispose to an early-onset severe recurrent pancreatitis and acute pancreatitis.

Open access

Matthew J Verheyden, Natassia Rodrigo, Anthony J Gill, and Sarah J Glastras

Summary

Necrobiosis lipoidica (NL) is a rare and chronic disease characterised by yellow-brown, atrophic, telangiectatic plaques usually located on the lower extremities, with pathological features of collagen necrobiosis and dermal inflammation. Most cases are seen in those with diabetes mellitus, particularly type 1 diabetes (T1DM), and many without diabetes have evidence of abnormal glucose tolerance or family history of autoimmune disease. In this study, we describe four patients with NL and T1DM. A common theme is late identification and delay in diagnosis. Hence, we discuss the clinical features, need for clinicopathological correlation, and the management and prognostic implications for this distinctive entity. While most remain relatively asymptomatic, others progress to debilitating disease with pruritus, dysesthesia, and pain. Pain is often intense in the presence of ulcerated plaques, a morbid complication of NL. Diagnosis requires the integration of both clinical and histopathological findings. NL has proven a challenging condition to treat, and despite the numerous therapeutic modalities available, there is no standard of care. Hence, in this study, we provide an overview of current management strategies available for NL.

Learning points

  • Necrobiosis lipoidica (NL) is classically seen in patients with type 1 diabetes.

  • Koebner phenomenon, defined as the appearance of new skin lesions on previously unaffected skin secondary to trauma, is a well-recognised feature in NL.

  • Background skin phototype contributes to variable yellow appearance of lesions in NL.

  • Diagnosis of NL requires careful clinicopathological correlation.

  • NL is a chronic disease often refractory to treatment leading to significant morbidity for the patient and a management conundrum for the multidisciplinary healthcare team.

  • No standard therapeutic regimen has been established for the management of NL.

Open access

Inês Vieira, Sofia Lopes, Margarida Bastos, Luísa Ruas, Dírcea Rodrigues, and Isabel Paiva

Summary

The coexistence of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NFT1) and Turner syndrome (TS) has only been reported in a few patients and may represent a diagnostic challenge. We describe the case of a 16-year-old girl, with a prior clinical diagnosis of NFT1, who was referred to Endocrinology appointments for the etiological study of primary amenorrhea. Evaluation of the anterior pituitary function was requested and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism was detected. During the etiological study, a 45X karyotype was found and TS was diagnosed. The fact that NFT1 can also be associated with short stature, short broad neck and hypertelorism was likely responsible for TS being diagnosed in late adolescence. As both TS and NFT1 are relatively common genetic disorders, it is important to be alert to the possibility that the presence of one disease does not invalidate the other.

Learning points

  • The concomitant presence of two syndromes in the same patient is unlikely and represents a diagnostic challenge.

  • Some phenotypic characteristics and clinical manifestations may be shared by several syndromes.

  • Some syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis type 1 may have very heterogeneous presentations.

  • It is important to be alert to the characteristics that are not explained by the initial diagnosis.

  • If such features are present, diagnostic work-up must be performed regardless of the initial syndromic diagnosis.

Open access

Jenny S W Yun, Chris McCormack, Michelle Goh, and Cherie Chiang

Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access

Najoua Rbiai, Ikram Mahroug, Nada Zizi, and Hanane Latrech

Summary

Cushing’s disease or pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-dependent Cushing’s syndrome is considered a rare condition. It is caused by hypersecretion of the ACTH by a pituitary adenoma that ultimately induces endogenous hypercortisolism by stimulating the adrenal glands. It is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality. The clinical signs and symptoms of hypercortisolism are usually common and non-specific including obesity, moon face, hypertension, hirsutism and facial plethora. The association between Cushing’s disease and calcinosis cutis which is defined as dystrophic calcium deposition in the skin and subcutaneous tissues is extremely rare. To the best of our knowledge, it has never been described previously in humans, probably like a symptom or complication of chronic and severe hypercortisolism. In this paper, we report a case of a 30-year-old female diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and presented bilateral leg’s calcinosis cutis complicated with ulceration. The evolution was favorable and the complete cicatrization was obtained 12 months following the suppression of systemic glucocorticoid excess.

Learning points

  • Calcinosis cutis is common in autoimmune connective diseases. However, to our knowledge, it has never been reported in humans with Cushing’s disease.

  • Given the rarity of this association, the diagnostic approach to calcinosis cutis must exclude the other etiologies.

  • Calcinosis cutis is challenging to treat with no gold standard therapy. In our case, the use of the combination of colchicine and bisphosphonates does not significantly improve the patient’s outcomes. In fact, we suppose that without treating the endogenous hypercortisolism, the calcinosis cutis will not resolve.

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

Priya Darshani Chhiba and David Segal

Summary

Recombinant human growth hormone therapy (rhGH) has been available since 1985 for a variety of conditions and has expanded the indications for rhGH therapy and the number of patients receiving therapy. The very nature of the therapy exposes individuals to years of injections. There are a number of well-known adverse events, however, a lesser-known and rarely reported adverse event of rhGH therapy is localized lipoatrophy. We report nine cases of localized lipoatrophy during rhGH therapy accounting for 14.5% of patients taking rhGH presenting to a single centre for routine follow-up over just a 2-month period. The development of localized lipoatrophy does not appear to be age, indication or dose-related but rather related to repeated administration of rhGH into a limited number of sites. The most likely putative mechanism is the local lipolytic action of growth hormone (GH) itself, although the possibility of an excipient-based interaction cannot be excluded. Given the high prevalence of this adverse event and the potential to prevent it with adequate site rotation, we can recommend that patients be informed of the possible development of localized lipoatrophy. Doctors and nurses should closely examine injection sites at each visit, and site rotation should be emphasized during injection technique education.

Learning points

  • There are a number of well-known adverse events, however, a lesser-known and rarely reported adverse event of rhGH therapy is localized lipoatrophy.

  • Examination of the injection sites at each visit by the treating healthcare practitioner.

  • To advise the parents/caregivers/patients to change their injection site with each injection.

  • To advise the parents/caregivers/patients to change the needles after every use.

  • For parents, caregivers and patients to self-inspect their injection sites and have a high alert for the development of lipoatrophy and to then immediately report it to their doctor.

Open access

Salvatore Cannavò and Serafinella Patrizia Cannavò

Summary

Factitious Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is a very rare form of Münchausen syndrome. Its presentation and course are extremely heterogeneous, and diagnosis is generally challenging. We report the case of a 52-year-old woman who was initially investigated because of the occurrence of cushingoid features. Nevertheless, endocrine work-up showed very low morning plasma ACTH and serum cortisol levels. In addition, it also demonstrated central hypopituitarism and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Head MRI showed a small pituitary mass. Based on these results, and probably overlooking the initial clinical suspicion, general practitioner (GP) referred the patient to our Endocrine Unit for hypopituitarism. At inspection, moon face, central obesity, and bruising were evident. Multiple ulcerative skin lesions were also concentrated in the right arm and leg. Dermatology evaluation suggested that the lesions were self-provoked. For several days, the patient denied the assumption of corticosteroids, but we finally discovered that the GP’ nurse had prescribed betamethasone without the GP’s knowledge for about 2 years. In conclusion, the surreptitious assumption of corticosteroids is very rare, but the physicians should be aware that pituitary function could be impaired by high doses of corticosteroids, mimicking hypopituitarism. In these patients, a multidisciplinary approach and environmental investigation can be useful to diagnose factitious CS.

Learning points

  • Surreptitious assumption of corticosteroids can cause heterogeneous presentation, ranging from Cushing’s syndrome to multiple hypopituitarism.

  • Suppression of ACTH and cortisol levels in a patient with cushingoid features firstly suggests surreptitious assumption of corticosteroids.

  • A multidisciplinary approach can be extremely useful in patients with suspected factitious Cushing’s syndrome.

  • Sometimes, to prove surreptitious assumption of corticosteroids needs environmental investigation.

Open access

Marina Yukina, Nurana Nuralieva, Ekaterina Sorkina, Ekaterina Troshina, Anatoly Tiulpakov, Zhanna Belaya, and Galina Melnichenko

Summary

Lamin A/C (LMNA) gene mutations cause a heterogeneous group of progeroid disorders, including Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome, mandibuloacral dysplasia, atypical progeroid syndrome (APS) and generalized lipodystrophy-associated progeroid syndrome (GLPS). All of those syndromes are associated with some progeroid features, lipodystrophy and metabolic complications but vary differently depending on a particular mutation and even patients carrying the same gene variant are known to have clinical heterogeneity. We report a new 30-year-old female patient from Russia with an APS and generalized lipodystrophy (GL) due to the heterozygous de novo LMNA p.E262K mutation and compare her clinical and metabolic features to those of other described patients with APS. Despite many health issues, short stature, skeletal problems, GL and late diagnosis of APS, our patient seems to be relatively metabolically healthy for her age when compared to previously described patients with APS.

Learning points

  • Atypical progeroid syndromes (APS) are rare and heterogenic with different age of onset and degree of metabolic disorders, which makes this diagnosis very challenging for clinicians and may be missed until the adulthood.

  • The clinical picture of the APS depends on a particular mutation in the LMNA gene, but may vary even between the patients with the same mutation.

  • The APS due to a heterozygous LMNA p.E262K mutation, which we report in this patient, seems to have association with the generalized lipodystrophy, short stature and osteoporosis, but otherwise, it seems to cause relatively mild metabolic complications by the age of 30.

  • The patients with APS and lipodystrophy syndromes require a personalized and multidisciplinary approach, and so they should be referred to highly specialized reference-centres for diagnostics and treatment as early as possible.

  • Because of the high heterogeneity of such a rare disease as APS, every patient’s description is noteworthy for a better understanding of this challenging syndrome, including the analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations.

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:

  • Menopause is a relative hyperandrogenic state

  • Hirsutism and/or virilizing features, in a postmenopausal woman, should raise the hypothesis of a malignant cause

  • In the absence of an identifiable ovarian or adrenal tumor, the ovarian origin remains the most likely

  • Peripheral aromatization of excess androgen may conduct to high levels of estrogen increasing the risk of endometrial cancer

  • Bilateral oophorectomy results in significant clinical improvement.