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Open access

Stephanie J Kim, Eric Morris Bomberg, Joshua Menke, Marika Russell, and Elizabeth J Murphy

Differentiated thyroid cancers generally have favorable prognoses, though follicular thyroid cancer is overall associated with a worse prognosis due in part to increased incidence of distant metastasis. We report a case of a 51-year-old woman with a history of widely invasive follicular thyroid carcinoma treated with a total thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine and external beam radiation. Five and a half years following her surgery, she was found to have an axillary lymph node mass, multiple lung masses, and a hilar mass in the setting of declining thyroglobulin (Tg) antibodies. Her metastases were initially thought to be due to a primary lung adenocarcinoma given a neoplastic cell immunophenotype that included an absence of Tg expression and co-expression of TTF-1 and Napsin A. However, PAX8 expression demonstrated that the axillary and hilar metastases were actually thyroid in origin rather than lung. Axillary metastases in differentiated thyroid carcinoma are exceedingly rare and previous reports have typically involved widely disseminated disease with extensive neck lymphadenopathy. With a decline in Tg antibodies levels in high-risk patients, one should consider progression and loss of differentiation of thyroid carcinoma rather than a response to treatment.

Learning points

Open access

Jennifer R Snaith, Duncan McLeod, Arthur Richardson, and David Chipps

Summary

Insulinomatosis is a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. The ideal management approach is not known. A 40-year-old woman with recurrent symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was diagnosed with an insulinoma. A benign 12 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was resected but hypoglycaemia recurred 7 years later. A benign 10 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was then resected but hypoglycaemia recurred within 2 months. Octreotide injections were trialled but exacerbated hypoglycaemia. After a 2-year interval, she underwent total pancreatectomy. A benign 28 mm pancreatic head insulinoma was found alongside insulin-expressing monohormonal endocrine cell clusters (IMECCs) and islet cell hyperplasia, consistent with a diagnosis of insulinomatosis. Hypoglycaemia recurred within 6 weeks. There was no identifiable lesion on MRI pancreas, Ga-68 PET or FDG PET. Diazoxide and everolimus were not tolerated. MEN-1 testing was negative. Insulinomatosis should be suspected in insulinomas with early recurrence or multifocality. De novo lesions can arise throughout the pancreas. Extensive surgery will assist diagnosis but may not provide cure.

Learning points:

Open access

Alessandro Prete, Giada Cosentino, Luca Manetti, Carlo Enrico Ambrosini, Piermarco Papini, Michele Marinò, Liborio Torregrossa, Claudio Marcocci, Rossella Elisei, and Isabella Lupi

Summary

In elderly patients presenting with a solid thyroid mass, the differential diagnosis between benign and malignant lesion is not always straightforward. We present the case of an 85-year-old woman with fever and an enlarged, firm and painful thyroid mass. Blood exams documented a mild thyrotoxicosis with a moderate inflammatory status. Thyroid scintiscan showed an absent uptake of 131I. Ultrasound and CT scan documented a 3 cm hypoechoic nodule with infiltration of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, very suspicious for neoplastic nature. Fine-needle aspiration and tru-cut biopsy were performed. During biopsy, the lesion was partially drained and a brownish fluid was extracted. The culture resulted positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae whereas the pathological analysis of the specimen was not conclusive due to the presence of an intense inflammatory response. A targeted oral antibiotic therapy was then initiated, obtaining only a partial response thus, in order to achieve a definite diagnosis, a minimally invasive hemithyroidectomy was performed. The pathological analysis documented acute suppurative thyroiditis and the clinical conditions of the patient significantly improved after surgical removal of thyroid abscess. In elderly patients with a solid thyroid mass, although neoplastic origin is quite frequent, acute suppurative thyroiditis should be considered as a differential diagnosis.

Learning points:

  • A solid and rapidly growing thyroid mass in elderly patients can hide a multifaceted variety of diseases, both benign and malign.
  • A multidisciplinary team (endocrinologist, surgeon, radiologist and pathologist) could be necessary in order to perform a correct differential diagnosis and therapeutic approach.
  • Surgery can be decisive not only to clarify a clinically uncertain diagnosis, but also to rapidly improve the clinical conditions of the patient.
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

F Keen, F Iqbal, P Owen, A Christian, N Kumar, and A Kalhan

Summary

We present a 60-year-old woman who underwent successful surgical resection (partial pancreatectomy) for a low grade non-functioning pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET), with no biochemical or radiological features of recurrence on follow-up visits for 5 years. Fourteen years after the initial surgery, she developed spontaneous severe hypoglycaemic episodes which required hospitalisation, with subsequent investigations confirming the diagnosis of a metastatic insulin-secreting pNET (insulinoma). Medical management of her severe spontaneous hypoglycaemic episodes remained challenging, despite optimum use of diazoxide and somatostatin analogue therapy. Based on a discussion at the regional neuroendocrine tumour multidisciplinary team meeting, she underwent an elective hepatic trans-arterial embolization which was unfortunately unsuccessful. She ended up requiring an emergency right hemihepatectomy and left retroperitoneal mass resection which finally stabilised her clinical condition.

Learning points:

  • Ours is only the seventh case report of a previously benign pNET presenting as a functional insulin secreting metastatic tumour. However, it is the first case report, in which the metastatic functional pNET presented after such a long hiatus (14 years).
  • There is currently no clear consensus regarding the length of follow-up of non-functional pNET which are deemed cured post-surgical resection, with most guidelines advocating a median follow up of 5 years (). The delayed presentation in our case suggests additional considerations should be made regarding optimal post-operative surveillance duration based on the age of the patient, location of the tumour, lymph node spread and Ki-67 index.
  • Hepatic artery embolization and/or partial hepatectomy remains a treatment option for pNET patients with significant hepatic metastasis.
Open access

Pratima Herle, Steven Boyages, Rina Hui, Najmun Nahar, and Nicholas K Ngui

Summary

In most developed countries, breast carcinoma is the most common malignancy in women and while thyroid cancer is less common, its incidence is almost three to five times greater in women than in men. Since 1966, studies have demonstrated an association between thyroid and breast cancer and despite these studies, the mechanism/s by which they are related, remains unclear. We present a case of a 56-year-old lady who initially presented in 2014 with a screen detected left breast carcinoma but was subsequently found to have occult metastatic thyroid cancer to the axilla, diagnosed from a sentinel node biopsy from the primary breast procedure. The patient underwent a left mastectomy, left axillary dissection and total thyroidectomy followed by three courses of radioactive iodine ablation. Despite this, her thyroglobulin level continued to increase, which was secondary to a metastatic thyroid cancer parasternal metastasis. Breast and thyroid cancer presents metachronously or synchronously more often than by chance. With improving mortality in primary cancers, such as breast and differentiated thyroid cancer, it is likely that as clinicians, we will continue to encounter this association in practice.

Learning points:

  • There has been a long-standing observation of an association between breast and thyroid cancer although the exact mechanism of this association remains unclear.
  • Our patient presented with thyroid cancer with an incidental diagnosis from a sentinel node biopsy during her primary breast operation for breast cancer and was also found to have a parasternal distant bony metastasis.
  • Thyroid axillary metastases are generally rare.
  • The interesting nature in which this patient’s metastatic thyroid carcinoma behaved more like a breast carcinoma highlights a correlation between these two cancers.
  • With improving mortality in these primary cancers, clinicians are likely to encounter this association in clinical practice.
  • Systemic therapy for metastatic breast and thyroid cancers differ and therefore a clear diagnosis of metastasis is crucial.
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

S Hamidi, S Mottard, M J Berthiaume, J Doyon, M J Bégin, and L Bondaz

Summary

Brown tumors (BTs) are expansile osteolytic lesions complicating severe primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). Clinical, radiological and histological features of BTs share many similarities with other giant cell-containing lesions of the bone, which can make their diagnosis challenging. We report the case of a 32-year-old man in whom an aggressive osteolytic lesion of the iliac crest was initially diagnosed as a giant cell tumor by biopsy. The patient was scheduled for surgical curettage, with a course of neoadjuvant denosumab. Routine biochemical workup prior to denosumab administration incidentally revealed high serum calcium levels. The patient was diagnosed with PHPT and a parathyroid adenoma was identified. In light of these findings, histological slices of the iliac lesion were reviewed and diagnosis of a BT was confirmed. Follow-up CT-scans performed 2 and 7 months after parathyroidectomy showed regression and re-ossification of the bone lesion. The aim of this case report is to underline the importance of distinguishing BTs from other giant cell-containing lesions of the bone and to highlight the relevance of measuring serum calcium as part of the initial evaluation of osteolytic bone lesions. This can have a major impact on patients’ management and can prevent unnecessary invasive surgical interventions.

Learning points:

  • Although rare, brown tumors should always be considered in the differential diagnosis of osteolytic giant cell-containing bone lesions.
  • Among giant cell-containing lesions of the bone, the main differential diagnoses of brown tumors are giant cell tumors and aneurysmal bone cysts.
  • Clinical, radiological and histological characteristics can be non-discriminating between brown tumors and giant cell tumors. One of the best ways to distinguish these two diagnoses appears to be through biochemical workup.
  • Differentiating brown tumors from giant cell tumors and aneurysmal bone cysts is crucial in order to ensure better patient care and prevent unnecessary morbid surgical interventions.
Open access

Anna Popławska-Kita, Marta Wielogórska, Łukasz Poplawski, Katarzyna Siewko, Agnieszka Adamska, Piotr Szumowski, Piotr Myśliwiec, Janusz Myśliwiec, Joanna Reszeć, Grzegorz Kamiński, Janusz Dzięcioł, Dorota Tobiaszewska, Małgorzata Szelachowska, and Adam Jacek Krętowski

Summary

Papillary thyroid gland carcinoma is the most common type of malignancy of the endocrine system. Metastases to the pituitary gland have been described as a complication of papillary thyroid cancer in few reported cases since 1965. We report the case of a 68-year-old female patient with a well-differentiated form of thyroid gland cancer. Despite it being the most common malignant cancer of the endocrine system, with its papillary form being one of the two most frequently diagnosed thyroid cancers, the case we present is extremely rare. Sudden cardiac arrest during ventricular fibrillation occurred during hospitalization. Autopsy of the patient revealed papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, follicular variant, with metastasis to the sella turcica, and concomitant sarcoidosis of heart, lung, and mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes. Not only does atypical metastasis make our patient’s case most remarkable, but also the postmortem diagnosis of sarcoidosis makes her case particularly unusual.

Learning points:

  • The goal of presenting this case is to raise awareness of the clinical heterogeneity of papillary cancer and promote early diagnosis of unexpected metastasis and coexisting diseases to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Clinicians must be skeptical. They should not fall into the trap of diagnostic momentum or accept diagnostic labels at face value. Regardless of the potential mechanisms, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of the coexistence of thyroid cancer and sarcoidosis as a differential diagnosis of lymphadenopathy.
  • This case highlights the importance of the diagnostic and therapeutic planning process and raises awareness of the fact that one uncommon disease could be masked by another extremely rare disorder.