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Open access

Nam Quang Tran, Chien Cong Phan, Thao Thi Phuong Doan, and Thang Viet Tran

Summary

Primary adrenal insufficiency is a rare disease and can masquerade as other conditions; therefore, it is sometimes incorrectly diagnosed. Herein, we reported the case of a 39-year-old Vietnamese male with primary adrenal insufficiency due to bilateral adrenal tuberculosis. The patient presented to the emergency room with acute adrenal crisis and a 3-day history of nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, and diarrhoea with a background of 6 months of fatigue, weight loss, and anorexia. Abdominal CT revealed bilateral adrenal masses. Biochemically, unequivocal low morning plasma cortisol (<83 nmol/L) and high plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone levels were consistent with primary adrenal insufficiency. There was no evidence of malignancy or lymphoma. As the patient was from a tuberculosis-endemic area, extra-adrenal tuberculosis was excluded during the work up. A retroperitoneal laparoscopic left adrenalectomy was performed, and tuberculous adrenalitis was confirmed by the histopathological results. The patient was started on antituberculous therapy, in addition to glucocorticoid replacement. In conclusion, even without evidence of extra-adrenal tuberculosis, a diagnosis of bilateral adrenal tuberculosis is required. A histopathological examination has a significant role along with clinical judgement and hormonal workup in establishing a definitive diagnosis of adrenal tuberculosis without evidence of active extra-adrenal involvement.

Learning points

  • Primary adrenal insufficiency can be misdiagnosed as other mimicking diseases, such as gastrointestinal illness, leading to diagnostic pitfalls.

  • Adrenal insufficiency can be confirmed with significantly low morning plasma cortisol levels of <83 nmol/L without a dynamic short cosyntropin stimulation test.

  • Tuberculous adrenalitis is an uncommon treatable condition; however, it remains an important cause of primary adrenal insufficiency, especially in developing countries. In the absence of extra-adrenal involvement, adrenal biopsy plays a key role in the diagnostic process. Alternatively, adrenalectomy for histopathological purposes should be considered if CT scan-guided fine needle aspiration is infeasible in cases of small adrenal masses.

Open access

Ryizan Nizar, Nathan W P Cantley, and Jonathan C Y Tang

Summary

A 33-year-old gentleman of Egyptian heritage presented with a 21 years history of unexplained and recurrent hypercalcaemia, nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis, and myocarditis. A similar history was also found in two first-degree relatives. Further investigation into the vitamin D metabolism pathway identified the biochemical hallmarks of infantile hypercalcaemia type 1 (IIH). A homozygous, likely pathogenic, variant in CYP24A1 was found on molecular genetic analysis confirming the diagnosis. Management now focuses on removing excess vitamin D from the metabolic pathway as well as reducing calcium intake to achieve serum-adjusted calcium to the middle of the reference range. If undiagnosed, IIH can cause serious renal complications and metabolic bone disease.

Learning points

  • Infantile hypercalcaemia type 1 (IIH) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by homozygous mutations in the CYP24A1 gene that encodes the 24-hydroxylase enzyme used to convert active vitamin D metabolites such as 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D into their inactive form.

  • IIH should be questioned in individuals presenting with a history of unexplained hypercalcaemia, especially if presenting from childhood and/or where there is an accompanying family history of the same in first and/or second degree relatives, causing complications such as nephrocalcinosis, pericarditis, and calcium-based nephrolithiasis.

  • Associated biochemistry of IIH is persistent mild to moderate hypercalcaemia, normal or raised 25-(OH)-vitamin D and elevated 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D. An elevated ratio of 25-(OH)-vitamin D to 24,25-(OH)2-vitamin D can be a useful marker of defects in the 24-hydroxylase enzyme, whose measurement can be facilitated through the supra-regional assay service.

  • Management should focus on limiting the amount of vitamin D introduced into the body either via sunlight exposure or supplementation in addition to calcium dietary restriction to try and maintain appropriate calcium homeostasis

Open access

Mariana Aveiro-Lavrador, Adriana De Sousa Lages, Luísa Barros, and Isabel Paiva

Summary

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of autosomal recessive disorders related to enzyme deficiencies in the adrenal steroidogenesis pathway leading to impaired corticosteroid biosynthesis. Depending on the extension of enzyme defect, there may be variable severities of CAH – classic and non-classic. We report the case of a 37-year-old male patient with a previously unknown diagnosis of classic CAH referred to Endocrinology evaluation due to class III obesity and insulin resistance. A high diagnostic suspicion was raised at the first Endocrinology consultation after careful past medical history analysis especially related to the presence of bilateral adrenal myelolipomas and primary infertility. A genetic test confirmed the presence of a variant of the CYP21A2 in homozygous with an enzymatic activity of 0–1%, corresponding to a classic and severe CAH form. Our case represents an unusually late definitive diagnose of classic CAH since the definition was established only during adulthood in the fourth decade of life. The missing diagnosis of classic 21 hydroxylase deficiency during infancy led to important morbidity, with a high impact on patients’ quality of life.

Learning points

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) refers to a group of autosomal recessive enzyme disorders responsible for an impaired cortical adrenal hormonal synthesis.

  • CAH may be divided into two major forms: classic and non-classic CAH.

  • If untreated, CAH may be fatal or may be responsible for important multi-organ long-term consequences that can be undervalued during adulthood.

  • Adrenal myelolipomas are associated with chronic exposure to high ACTH levels and continuous androgen hyperstimulation typically found in undertreated CAH patients.

  • Testicular adrenal rest tumours (TART) and primary infertility can be the first manifestation of the disease during adulthood.

Open access

Paweena Chunharojrith, Kanapon Pradniwat, and Tanawan Kongmalai

Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion is responsible for 5–15% of Cushing’s syndrome (CS). Neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a common cause of ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS). However, primary renal NET is exceedingly rare. Fewer than 100 cases have been reported and only a few cases presented with CS. Because of its rarity and lack of long-term follow-up data, clinical manifestations, biological behavior and prognosis are not well understood. Here, we report the case of a 51-year-old man who presented with clinical and laboratory findings compatible with EAS. CT scan revealed a lesion of uncertain nature at the lower pole of the left kidney. Octreotide scan found a filling defect at the lower pole of left kidney. It was difficult to determine if this finding was the true etiology or an incidental finding. Unfortunately, the patient’s clinical status rapidly deteriorated with limited medical treatment. The patient underwent left nephrectomy and left adrenalectomy. Histopathological examination confirmed NET with oncocytic features. Immunohistochemistry staining was positive for ACTH. The patient’s condition gradually improved. Additionally, glucocorticoid replacement was required only 6 months during a gradual recovery of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis achieved approximately three years after tumor removal. Although extremely rare, primary renal NET should be considered as a cause of EAS particularly in a patient with rapid clinical deterioration. Thorough investigation, early diagnosis and careful management are crucial to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Learning points

  • Primary renal NET is an extremely rare cause of ectopic ACTH syndrome.

  • Ectopic ACTH syndrome has a rapid onset with severe clinical manifestations. In this case, the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly, resulting from severe hypercortisolism. Resection of the tumor is the most effective treatment.

  • Localization of ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors is very challenging. Multimodality imaging including CT, MRI, octreotide scan, and positron emission tomography plays a crucial role in identifying the tumors. However, each imaging modality has limitations.

Open access

Shunsuke Shimazaki, Itsuro Kazukawa, Kyoko Mori, Makiko Kihara, and Masanori Minagawa

Summary

Ammonium acid urate (AAU) crystals are rare in industrialized countries. Furthermore, the number of children with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) who develop severe acute kidney injury (AKI) after hospitalization is small. We encountered two patients with AKI caused by AAU crystals during the recovery phase of DKA upon admission. They were diagnosed with severe DKA and hyperuricemia. Their urine volume decreased and AKI developed several days after hospitalization; however, acidosis improved in both patients. Urine sediment analysis revealed AAU crystals. They were treated with urine alkalization and diuretics. Excretion of ammonia in the urine and urine pH levels increased after treatment of DKA, which resulted in the formation of AAU crystals. In patients with severe DKA, the urine and urine sediment should be carefully examined as AAU can form in the recovery phase of DKA.

Learning points:

  • Ammonium acid urate crystals could be formed in the recovery phase of diabetic ketoacidosis.

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis patients may develop acute kidney injury caused by ammonium acid urate crystals.

  • Urine and urine sediment should be carefully checked in patients with severe DKA who present with hyperuricemia and volume depletion.

Open access

Eriselda Profka, Giulia Rodari, Federico Giacchetti, Alfredo Berrettini, Gianantonio Manzoni, Valeria Daccò, Maura Arosio, Claudia Giavoli, and Carla Colombo

Summary

An 8-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis came to our attention for an empty scrotum. General physical examination showed a normal penis and hypoplastic scrotum with non-palpable testes bilaterally. Routine blood investigations showed low levels of LH, testosterone, inhibin B and antiMullerian hormone and elevated levels of FSH. Karyotype was normal. An abdominal ultrasound confirmed the absence of the testes into the scrotum, in the inguinal region and abdomen. At laparoscopy were noted bilaterally hypotrophic spermatic vessels, absence of the vas deferens and a closed inner ring. Inguinal exploration found out a small residual testis and histological examination showed fibrotic tissue. This is the first case of testicular atrophy associated to CFTR mutation described. The process that led to bilateral testicular and vas deferens atrophy remains unexplained, a possible influence of CFTR dysfunction cannot be ruled out, although it is possible that these conditions are independently associated.

Learning points:

  • Cystic fibrosis produces a multisystemic disease which can affect also the reproductive tract.

  • Nearly 97–98% of male patients are infertile because of congenital bilateral absence of vas deferens.

  • A correlation between cystic fibrosis and bilateral testicular atrophy could be possible.

Open access

Takuya Higashitani, Shigehiro Karashima, Daisuke Aono, Seigoh Konishi, Mitsuhiro Kometani, Rie Oka, Masashi Demura, Kenji Furukawa, Yuto Yamazaki, Hironobu Sasano, Takashi Yoneda, and Yoshiyu Takeda

Summary

Renovascular hypertension (RVHT) is an important and potentially treatable form of resistant hypertension. Hypercortisolemia could also cause hypertension and diabetes mellitus. We experienced a case wherein adrenalectomy markedly improved blood pressure and plasma glucose levels in a patient with RVHT and low-level autonomous cortisol secretion. A 62-year-old Japanese man had been treated for hypertension and diabetes mellitus for 10 years. He was hospitalized because of a disturbance in consciousness. His blood pressure (BP) was 236/118 mmHg, pulse rate was 132 beats/min, and plasma glucose level was 712 mg/dL. Abdominal CT scanning revealed the presence of bilateral adrenal masses and left atrophic kidney. Abdominal magnetic resonance angiography demonstrated marked stenosis of the left main renal artery. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with atherosclerotic RVHT with left renal artery stenosis. His left adrenal lobular mass was over 40 mm and it was clinically suspected the potential for cortisol overproduction. Therefore, laparoscopic left nephrectomy and adrenalectomy were simultaneously performed, resulting in improved BP and glucose levels. Pathological studies revealed the presence of multiple cortisol-producing adrenal nodules and aldosterone-producing cell clusters in the adjacent left adrenal cortex. In the present case, the activated renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and cortisol overproduction resulted in severe hypertension, which was managed with simultaneous unilateral nephrectomy and adrenalectomy.

Learning points:

  • Concomitant activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and cortisol overproduction may contribute to the development of severe hypertension and lead to lethal cardiovascular complications.

  • Treatment with simultaneous unilateral nephrectomy and adrenalectomy markedly improves BP and blood glucose levels.

  • CYP11B2 immunohistochemistry staining revealed the existence of aldosterone-producing cell clusters (APCCs) in the adjacent non-nodular adrenal gland, suggesting that APCCs may contribute to aldosterone overproduction in patients with RVHT.

Open access

Shanika Samarasinghe, Simge Yuksel, and Swati Mehrotra

Summary

We report a rare case of concurrent medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) and papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) with intermixed disease in several of the lymph node (LN) metastases in a patient who was subsequently diagnosed with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC). A 56 year old female presented with dysphagia and was found to have a left thyroid nodule and left superior cervical LN with suspicious sonographic features. Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) demonstrated PTC in the left thyroid nodule and MTC in the left cervical LN. Histopathology demonstrated multifocal PTC with 3/21 LNs positive for metastatic PTC. One LN in the left lateral neck dissection exhibited features of both MTC and PTC within the same node. In the right lobe, a 0.3 cm focus of MTC with extra-thyroidal extension was noted. Given persistent calcitonin elevation, a follow-up ultrasound displayed an abnormal left level 4 LN. FNAB showed features of both PTC and MTC on the cytopathology itself. The patient underwent repeat central and left radical neck dissection with 3/6 LNs positive for PTC in the central neck and 2/6 LNs positive for intermixed PTC and MTC in the left neck. There was no evidence of distant metastases on computed tomography and whole body scintigraphy, however a 1.9 x 2.5 cm enhancing mass within the right inter-polar kidney was discovered. This lesion was highly suspicious for RCC. Surgical pathology revealed a 2.5 cm clear cell RCC, Fuhrman grade 2/4, with negative surgical margins. She continues to be observed with stable imaging of her triple malignancies.

Learning points:

  • Mixed medullary-papillary thyroid neoplasm is characterized by the presence of morphological and immunohistochemical features of both medullary and papillary thyroid cancers within the same lesion. Simultaneous occurrence of these carcinomas has been previously reported, but a mixed disease within the same lymph node is an infrequent phenomenon.

  • Prognosis of mixed medullary-papillary thyroid carcinomas is determined by the medullary component. Therefore, when PTC and MTC occur concurrently, the priority should be given to the management of MTC, which involves total thyroidectomy and central lymph node dissection.

  • Patients with thyroid cancer, predominantly PTC, have shown higher than expected rates of RCC. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the combination of MTC, PTC, and RCC in a single patient.

Open access

Mariana Barbosa, Sílvia Paredes, Maria João Machado, Rui Almeida, and Olinda Marques

Summary

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, currently used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, have been described as a rare cause of pituitary apoplexy, a potentially life-threatening clinical condition. We report the case of a 69-year-old man with a known pituitary macroadenoma who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and started treatment with GnRH agonist leuprorelin (other hormones were not tested before treatment). Few minutes after drug administration, the patient presented with acute-onset severe headache, followed by left eye ptosis, diplopia and vomiting. Pituitary MRI revealed tumor enlargement and T1-hyperintense signal, compatible with recent bleeding sellar content. Laboratory endocrine workup was significant for low total testosterone. The patient was managed conservatively with high-dose steroids, and symptoms significantly improved. This case describes a rare phenomenon, pituitary apoplexy induced by GnRH agonist. We review the literature regarding this condition: the pathophysiological mechanism involved is not clearly established and several hypotheses have been proposed. Although uncommon, healthcare professionals and patients should be aware of this complication and recognize the signs, preventing a delay in diagnosis and treatment.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary apoplexy (PA) is a potentially life-threatening complication that can be caused by gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) administration for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

  • This complication is rare but should be taken into account when using GnRHa, particularly in the setting of a known pre-existing pituitary adenoma.

  • PA presents with classic clinical signs and symptoms that should be promptly recognized.

  • Patients should be instructed to seek medical care if suspicious symptoms occur.

  • Healthcare professionals should be aware of this complication, enabling its early recognition, adequate treatment and favorable outcome.

Open access

Taieb Ach, Perrine Wojewoda, Flora Toullet, Roxane Ducloux, and Véronique Avérous

Summary

Multiple endocrine metastases are a rare but possible complication of lung adenocarcinoma (LAC). Pituitary metastasis is a rare condition with poor clinical expression. Diabetes insipidus (DI) is its most common presenting symptom. Here we report an original case of a pituitary stalk (PS) metastasis from LAC presenting as central DI followed by adrenal insufficiency (AI) from bilateral adrenal metastasis, without known evidence of the primary malignancy. A 45-year-old woman whose first clinical manifestations were polyuria and polydipsia was admitted. She was completely asymptomatic with no cough, no weight loss or anorexia. Chest radiography was normal. Brain MRI showed a thick pituitary stalk (PS). DI was confirmed by water restriction test and treated with vasopressin with great clinical results. Explorations for systemic and infectious disease were negative. Few months later, an acute AI led to discovering bilateral adrenal mass on abdominal CT. A suspicious 2.3 cm apical lung nodule was found later. Histopathological adrenal biopsy revealed an LAC. The patient received systemic chemotherapy with hormonal replacement for endocrinological failures by both vasopressin and hydrocortisone. We present this rare case of metastatic PS thickness arising from LAC associated with bilateral adrenal metastasis. Screening of patients with DI and stalk thickness for lung and breast cancer must be considered. Multiple endocrine failures as a diagnostic motive of LAC is a rare but possible circumstance.

Learning points:

  • Adrenal metastasis is a common location in lung adenocarcinoma; however, metastatic involvement of the pituitary stalk remains a rare occurrence, especially as a leading presentation to diagnose lung cancer.

  • The posterior pituitary and the infundibulum are the preferential sites for metastases, as they receive direct arterial blood supply from hypophyseal arteries.

  • Patients diagnosed with diabetes insipidus due to pituitary stalk thickness should be considered as a metastasis, after exclusion of the classical systemic and infectious diseases.

  • The diagnosis of an endocrinological metastatic primary lung adenocarcinoma for patients without respiratory symptoms is often delayed due to a lack of correlation between endocrinological symptoms and lung cancer.

  • The main originality of our case is the concomitant diagnosis of both endocrinological failures, as it was initiated with a diabetes insipidus and followed by an acute adrenal insufficiency.