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Open access

Anna Elvira S Arcellana, Karen Joy B Adiao, and Myrna Buenaluz-Sedurante

Summary

Occasionally, autoimmune disorders can come in twos. This double trouble creates unique challenges. Myasthenia gravis co-existing with autoimmune thyroid disease occurs in only about 0.14–0.2% of cases. The patient is a 27-year-old man with a 2-month history of bilateral ptosis, diplopia, with episodes of easy fatigability, palpitations, and heat intolerance. On physical exam, the patient had an enlarged thyroid gland. Myasthenia gravis was established based on the presence of ptosis with weakness of the intraocular muscles, abnormal fatigability, and a repetitive nerve stimulation study indicated neuromuscular junction disease. Episodes of fluctuating right shoulder weakness were also noted. He was also found to have elevated FT3, FT4, and a suppressed TSH. Thyroid ultrasound revealed thyromegaly with diffused parenchymal disease. Thyroid scintigraphy showed increased uptake function at 72.4% uptake at 24 h. TRAb was positive at 4.1 U/L. Patient was started on pyridostigmine which led to a significant reduction in the frequency of ocular muscle weakness. Methimazole was also initiated. Radioactive iodine at 14.9 mci was instituted for the definitive management of hyperthyroidism. After RAI, there was abatement of the hyperthyroid symptoms, as well as improvement in the status of the myasthenia gravis, with ptosis, diplopia, and right arm weakness hardly occurring thereafter despite the reduction of the pyridostigmine dose based on a symptom diary and medication intake record. Two distinct autoimmune conditions displayed a markedly improved clinical course with the institution of radioactive iodine therapy for Graves’ disease.

Learning points

  • The presence of ptosis, diplopia, and fluctuating muscle weakness are atypical in Graves’ disease and should prompt an investigation on the existence of concurrent myasthenia gravis. A prompt diagnosis of both conditions will enable the institution of appropriate management that would target both rare and challenging autoimmune diseases.

  • Selecting the therapeutic options with minimal risk of morbidity and mortality, which could lead to maximal benefit especially in a resource-limited setting is paramount.

  • Targeted non-surgical management can lead to the remission of two autoimmune diseases which can result in patient satisfaction and improved quality of life.

Open access

Wann Jia Loh, Lily Mae Dacay, Clara Si Hua Tan, Su Fen Ang, Fabian Yap, Su Chi Lim, and Joan Khoo

Summary

Activating mutation of glucokinase gene (GCK) causes resetting of insulin inhibition at a lower glucose threshold causing hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (GCK-HH). This is the first reported case who tolerated years of regular fasting during Ramadhan, presenting only with seizure and syncope now. We describe a case with GCK gene variant p.T65I diagnosed in a 51-year-old woman with hypoglycaemia unawareness even at glucose level of 1.6 mmol/L. Insulin and C-peptide levels during hypoglycaemia were suggestive of hyperinsulinism, but at a day after intravenous glucagon, hypoglycaemia occurred with low insulin and C-peptide levels, pointing against insulinoma as the underlying aetiology. Imaging studies of the pancreas and calcium arterial stimulation venous sampling were unremarkable. A review of old medical records revealed asymptomatic hypoglycaemia years ago. Genetic testing confirmed activating mutation of GCK. Hypoglycaemia was successfully controlled with a somatostatin analogue. This case highlights the importance of consideration of genetic causes of hypoglycaemia in adulthood, especially when imaging is uninformative.

Learning points

  • Consider genetic causes of endogenous hyperinsulinism hypoglycaemia in adulthood, especially when imaging is uninformative.

  • Late presentation of activating mutation of GCK can occur because of hypoglycaemia unawareness.

  • Long-acting somatostatin analogue may be useful for the treatment of activating mutation of GCK causing hypoglycaemia.

  • Depending on the glucose level when the blood was taken, and the threshold of glucose-stimulated insulin release (GSIR), the serum insulin and C-peptide levels may be raised (hyperinsulinaemic) or low (hypoinsulinaemic) in patients with activating mutation of GCK.

  • Glucagon may be useful to hasten the process of unmasking the low insulin level during hypoglycaemia below the GSIR level of which insulin released is suppressed.

Open access

Ann-Elin Meling Stokland, Anne Lise Dahle, Vidar Laurits Kloster, Torbjørn Nedrebø, and Bjørn Gunnar Nedrebø

Summary

Myxedema coma is an important differential diagnosis in critically ill patients. Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount but challenging due to a lack of diagnostic criteria. We report a case about a patient who suffered from untreated hypothyroidism for several years. Before the correct diagnosis was made, he was admitted three times due to severe constipation. Eventually, he developed myxedema coma in connection with a urinary tract infection. The course was complicated by recurrent seizures, and neuroimaging showed bilateral hygromas. Hormone replacement therapy resulted in complete recovery and regression of hygromas. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time hygroma is reported in association with myxedema coma.

Learning points

  • Myxedema coma is a difficult diagnosis to make due to a lack of diagnostic criteria.

  • Cardinal features include hypothermia, bradycardia, gastrointestinal symptoms, pericardial/pleural effusions and affection of CNS. Anemia and hyponatremia are common.

  • In case of suspected myxedema coma, neuroimaging should be a part of the evaluation in most cases.

  • There is a possible association between longstanding/severe hypothyroidism and hygroma.

Open access

Angelika Mohn, Nella Polidori, Chiara Aiello, Cristiano Rizzo, Cosimo Giannini, Francesco Chiarelli, and Marco Cappa

Summary

Adrenoleukodystrophy is a peroxisomal X-linked recessive disease caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene, located on the X-chromosome (Xq28). Gene mutations in patient with adrenoleukodystrophy induce metabolic alterations characterized by impaired peroxisomal beta-oxidation and accumulation of very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA) in plasma and in all tissues. Although nutritional intervention associated with a various mixture of oil prevents the accumulation of VLCFA, to date no causal treatment is available. Therefore, haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and gene therapy are allowed only for very early stages of cerebral forms diagnosed during childhood.We reported a case series describing five family members affected by X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy caused by a novel mutation of the ABCD1 gene. Particularly, three brothers were affected while the sister and mother carried the mutation of the ABCD1 gene. In this family, the disease was diagnosed at different ages and with different clinical pictures highlighting the wide range of phenotypes related to this novel mutation. In addition, these characteristics stress the relevant role of early diagnosis to properly set a patient-based follow-up.

Learning points

  • We report a novel mutation in the ABCD1 gene documented in a family group associated to an X-ALD possible Addison only phenotype.

  • All patients present just Addison disease but with different phenotypes despite the presence of the same mutations. Further follow-up is necessary to complete discuss the clinical development.

  • The diagnosis of ALD needs to be included in the differential diagnosis in all patients with idiopathic PAI through accurate evaluation of VLCFA concentrations and genetic confirmation testing.

  • Early diagnosis of neurological manifestation is important in order to refer timely to HSCT.

  • Further follow-up of these family members is necessary to characterize the final phenotype associated with this new mutation.

Open access

Antonella Corcillo, Zoe Kleinaki, Stella Kapnisi, Nikolaos Fountoulakis, Giuseppe Maltese, Stephen M Thomas, and Janaka Karalliedde

Summary

A 26-year-old Caucasian female with no past medical history or family history of auto-immune disease presented to the emergency department with new onset painless left foot drop. A panel of blood tests revealed blood glucose of 49.9 mmol/L and raised blood ketone levels. The patient was referred to the diabetes team who made a clinical diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and insulin treatment was initiated. Elevated levels of diabetes auto-antibodies were subsequently detected. Nerve conduction studies demonstrated a left common peroneal nerve lesion with conduction block at the fibular head. After 2 weeks of insulin treatment, a significant improvement of her foot drop was observed and after 8 weeks she was walking normally. The most probable cause of her foot drop was acute diabetic mononeuropathy. To our knowledge, there are no similar cases in adult patients reported in the literature. Our case highlights the importance of physicians being aware of atypical presentation of new onset T1DM.

Learning points:

  • There is an increasing incidence of T1DM with more than half of patients presenting after the age of 20.

  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can present both acutely and as a mononeuropathy.

  • Although rare, clinicians should be aware of mononeuropathy as a presenting symptom of T1DM to avoid delay in the treatment initiation.

  • This case highlights an unusual presentation of T1DM and illustrates the importance of the early diagnosis and management of T1DM.

Open access

Sajjad Ahmad, Thomas Best, Andrew Lansdown, Caroline Hayhurst, Fiona Smeeton, Steve Davies, and Aled Rees

Summary

Excess cortisol is associated with hypertrophy and redistribution of adipose tissue leading to central obesity which is classically seen in Cushing’s syndrome. Abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue in the spinal canal is most commonly associated with chronic steroid therapy and rarely reported with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Herein, we describe a case of spinal epidural lipomatosis (SEL) associated with Cushing’s disease. A 17-year-old man was referred with lower limb weakness, weight gain, multiple stretch marks, back pain and loss of height. He had clinical and biochemical features of Cushing’s syndrome. MRI and Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling (IPSS) confirmed a pituitary adenoma as the source. On day 1 post trans-sphenoidal adenectomy he developed spastic paraparesis with a sensory deficit to the level of T5. MRI spine showed increased fat deposition in the spinal canal from T2 to T9 consistent with a diagnosis of SEL. He was managed conservatively and made a good recovery following restoration of eucortisolism and a period of rehabilitation.

Learning points:

  • SEL is a serious complication of glucocorticoid excess and should be considered in any patient presenting with new lower limb neurological symptoms associated with hypercortisolism.

  • It is important to distinguish symptomatic SEL from cortisol-induced proximal myopathy by good history and clinical examination.

  • MRI of the spine is the gold standard investigation for making a diagnosis of SEL.

  • Restoration of eucortisolism can lead to resolution of fat accumulation and good neurological outcome.

Open access

Jai Madhok, Amy Kloosterboer, Chitra Venkatasubramanian, and Frederick G Mihm

Summary

We report the case of a 76-year-old male with a remote history of papillary thyroid cancer who developed severe paroxysmal headaches in the setting of episodic hypertension. Brain imaging revealed multiple lesions, initially of inconclusive etiology, but suspicious for metastatic foci. A search for the primary malignancy revealed an adrenal tumor, and biochemical testing confirmed the diagnosis of a norepinephrine-secreting pheochromocytoma. Serial imaging demonstrated multiple cerebral infarctions of varying ages, evidence of vessel narrowing and irregularities in the anterior and posterior circulations, and hypoperfusion in watershed areas. An exhaustive work-up for other etiologies of stroke including thromboembolic causes or vasculitis was unremarkable. There was resolution of symptoms, absence of new infarctions, and improvement in vessel caliber after adequate alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade for the management of pheochromocytoma. This clinicoradiologic constellation of findings suggested that the etiology of the multiple infarctions was reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). Pheochromocytoma remains a poorly recognized cause of RCVS. Unexplained multifocal cerebral infarctions in the setting of severe hypertension should prompt the consideration of a vasoactive tumor as the driver of cerebrovascular dysfunction. A missed or delayed diagnosis has the potential for serious neurologic morbidity for an otherwise treatable condition.

Learning points:

  • The constellation of multifocal watershed cerebral infarctions of uncertain etiology in a patient with malignant hypertension should trigger the consideration of undiagnosed catecholamine secreting tumors, such as pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome is a serious but reversible cerebrovascular manifestation of pheochromocytomas that may lead to strokes (ischemic and hemorrhagic), seizures, and cerebral edema.

  • Alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade can reverse cerebral vasoconstriction and prevent further cerebral ischemia and infarctions.

  • Early diagnosis of catecholamine secreting tumors has the potential for reducing neurologic morbidity and mortality in patients presenting with cerebrovascular complications.

Open access

Tzy Harn Chua and Wann Jia Loh

Summary

Severe hyponatremia and osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS) are opposite ends of a spectrum of emergency disorders related to sodium concentrations. Management of severe hyponatremia is challenging because of the difficulty in balancing the risk of overcorrection leading to ODS as well as under-correction causing cerebral oedema, particularly in a patient with chronic hypocortisolism and hypothyroidism. We report a case of a patient with Noonan syndrome and untreated anterior hypopituitarism who presented with symptomatic hyponatremia and developed transient ODS.

Learning points:

  • Patients with severe anterior hypopituitarism with severe hyponatremia are susceptible to the rapid rise of sodium level with a small amount of fluid and hydrocortisone.

  • These patients with chronic anterior hypopituitarism are at high risk of developing ODS and therefore, care should be taken to avoid a rise of more than 4–6 mmol/L per day.

  • Early recognition and rescue desmopressin and i.v. dextrose 5% fluids to reduce serum sodium concentration may be helpful in treating acute ODS.

Open access

N Siddique, R Durcan, S Smyth, T Kyaw Tun, S Sreenan, and J H McDermott

Summary

We present three cases of acute diabetic neuropathy and highlight a potentially underappreciated link between tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies in patients with diabetes. Case 1: A 56-year-old male with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes (T2DM) was commenced on basal-bolus insulin. He presented 6 weeks later with a diffuse painful sensory neuropathy and postural hypotension. He was diagnosed with treatment-induced neuropathy (TIN, insulin neuritis) and obtained symptomatic relief from pregabalin. Case 2: A 67-year-old male with T2DM and chronic hyperglycaemia presented with left lower limb pain, weakness and weight loss shortly after achieving target glycaemia with oral anti-hyperglycaemics. Neurological examination and neuro-electrophysiological studies suggested diabetic lumbosacral radiculo-plexus neuropathy (DLPRN, diabetic amyotrophy). Pain and weakness resolved over time. Case 3: A 58-year-old male was admitted with blurred vision diplopia and complete ptosis of the right eye, with intact pupillary reflexes, shortly after intensification of glucose-lowering treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor as adjunct to metformin. He was diagnosed with a pupil-sparing third nerve palsy secondary to diabetic mononeuritis which improved over time. While all three acute neuropathies have been previously well described, all are rare and require a high index of clinical suspicion as they are essentially a diagnosis of exclusion. Interestingly, all three of our cases are linked by the development of acute neuropathy following a significant improvement in glycaemic control. This phenomenon is well described in TIN, but not previously highlighted in other acute neuropathies.

Learning points:

  • A link between acute tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies has not been well described in literature.

  • Clinicians caring for patients with diabetes who develop otherwise unexplained neurologic symptoms following a tightening of glycaemic control should consider the possibility of an acute diabetic neuropathy.

  • Early recognition of these neuropathies can obviate the need for detailed and expensive investigations and allow for early institution of appropriate pain-relieving medications.

Open access

Gemma White, Nicola Tufton, and Scott A Akker

Summary

At least 40% of phaeochromocytomas and paraganglioma’s (PPGLs) are associated with an underlying genetic mutation. The understanding of the genetic landscape of these tumours has rapidly evolved, with 18 associated genes now identified. Among these, mutations in the subunits of succinate dehydrogenase complex (SDH) are the most common, causing around half of familial PPGL cases. Occurrence of PPGLs in carriers of SDHB, SDHC and SDHD subunit mutations has been long reported, but it is only recently that variants in the SDHA subunit have been linked to PPGL formation. Previously documented cases have, to our knowledge, only been found in isolated cases where pathogenic SDHA variants were identified retrospectively. We report the case of an asymptomatic suspected carotid body tumour found during surveillance screening in a 72-year-old female who is a known carrier of a germline SDHA pathogenic variant. To our knowledge, this is the first screen that detected PPGL found in a previously identified SDHA pathogenic variant carrier, during surveillance imaging. This finding supports the use of cascade genetic testing and surveillance screening in all carriers of a pathogenic SDHA variant.

Learning points:

  • SDH mutations are important causes of PPGL disease.

  • SDHA is much rarer compared to SDHB and SDHD mutations.

  • Pathogenicity and penetrance are yet to be fully determined in cases of SDHA-related PPGL.

  • Surveillance screening should be used for SDHA PPGL cases to identify recurrence, metastasis or metachronous disease.

  • Surveillance screening for SDH-related disease should be performed in identified carriers of a pathogenic SDHA variant.