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Open access

Ravikumar Ravindran, Justyna Witczak, Suhani Bahl, Lakdasa D K E Premawardhana, and Mohamed Adlan

Summary

A 53-year-old man who used growth hormone (GH), anabolic steroids and testosterone (T) for over 20 years presented with severe constipation and hypercalcaemia. He had benign prostatic hyperplasia and renal stones but no significant family history. Investigations showed – (1) corrected calcium (reference range) 3.66 mmol/L (2.2–2.6), phosphate 1.39 mmol/L (0.80–1.50), and PTH 2 pmol/L (1.6–7.2); (2) urea 21.9 mmol/L (2.5–7.8), creatinine 319 mmol/L (58–110), eGFR 18 mL/min (>90), and urine analysis (protein 4+, glucose 4+, red cells 2+); (3) creatine kinase 7952 U/L (40–320), positive anti Jo-1, and Ro-52 antibodies; (4) vitamin D 46 nmol/L (30–50), vitamin D3 29 pmol/L (55–139), vitamin A 4.65 mmol/L (1.10–2.60), and normal protein electrophoresis; (5) normal CT thorax, abdomen and pelvis and MRI of muscles showed ‘inflammation’, myositis and calcification; (6) biopsy of thigh muscles showed active myositis, chronic myopathic changes and mineral deposition and of the kidneys showed positive CD3 and CD45, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and hypercalcaemic tubular changes; and (7) echocardiography showed left ventricular hypertrophy (likely medications and myositis contributing), aortic stenosis and an ejection fraction of 44%, and MRI confirmed these with possible right coronary artery disease. Hypercalcaemia was possibly multifactorial – (1) calcium release following myositis, rhabdomyolysis and acute kidney injury; (2) possible primary hyperparathyroidism (a low but detectable PTH); and (3) hypervitaminosis A. He was hydrated and given pamidronate, mycophenolate and prednisolone. Following initial biochemical and clinical improvement, he had multiple subsequent admissions for hypercalcaemia and renal deterioration. He continued taking GH and T despite counselling but died suddenly of a myocardial infarction.

Learning points:

  • The differential diagnosis of hypercalcaemia is sometimes a challenge.
  • Diagnosis may require multidisciplinary expertise and multiple and invasive investigations.
  • There may be several disparate causes for hypercalcaemia, although one usually predominates.
  • Maintaining ‘body image’ even with the use of harmful drugs may be an overpowering emotion despite counselling about their dangers.
Open access

Nirusha Arnold, Victor O’Toole, Tien Huynh, Howard C Smith, Catherine Luxford, Roderick Clifton-Bligh, and Creswell J Eastman

Summary

Parathyroid-independent hypercalcaemia of pregnancy, due to biallelic loss of function of the P450 enzyme CYP24A1, the principal inactivator of 1,25(OH)2D results in hypervitaminosis D, hypercalcaemia and hypercalciuria. We report two cases of this disorder, with intractable hypercalcaemia, one occurring during gestation and into the postpartum, and the other in the postpartum period. Case 1, a 47-year-old woman with a twin pregnancy conceived by embryo transfer, presented with hypercalcaemia at 23 weeks gestation with subnormal serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) and normal serum 25-OH D levels. She was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks gestation with pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes and increasing hypercalcaemia. Caesarean section at 34 weeks gestation delivered two healthy females weighing 2.13 kg and 2.51 kg. At delivery, the patient’s serum calcium level was 2.90 mmol/L. Postpartum severe hypercalcaemia was treated successfully with Denosumab 60 mg SCI, given on two occasions. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was compound heterozygous for pathogenic variants c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del) and c.1186C>T, (p.Arg396Trp). Case 2, a 36-year-old woman presented 4 days after the delivery of healthy twins with dyspnoea, bradycardia, severe headaches, hypertension and generalized tonic-clonic seizures after an uneventful pregnancy. She was hypercalcaemic with a suppressed PTH, normal 25(OH)D, and elevated 1,25(OH)2D levels. Her symptoms partially responded to i.v. saline and corticosteroids in the short term but bisphosphonates such as Pamidronate and Zoledronic acid did not result in sustained improvement. Denosumab 120 mg SCI successfully treated the hypercalcaemia which resolved completely 2 months post-partum. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was homozygous for the pathogenic variant c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del).

Learning points:

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be associated with considerable morbidity with few options available for management.
  • In non-PTH-related hypercalcaemia the diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency should be considered.
  • Making a definitive diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency by genetic testing delays the diagnosis, while the availability of serum 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (24,25(OH)2D) will expedite a diagnosis.
  • In pregnant women with CYP24A1 deficiency hypercalcaemia can worsen in the post-partum period and is more likely to occur with twin pregnancies but generally resolves within 2–3 months.
  • Therapeutic alternatives are limited in pregnancy and their effectiveness is short-lived and mostly ineffective. Denosumab used in both our patients after delivery was the most effective agent normalizing calcium and may have benefit as a long-term therapeutic agent in preventing complications in patients with CYP24A1 deficiency.
Open access

Mona Abouzaid, Ahmed Al-Sharefi, Satish Artham, Ibrahim Masri, Ajay Kotagiri, and Ashwin Joshi

Summary

An 82-year-old male with a proven diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) was found to have bilateral changes in the fundi during a routine eye examination which were consistent with SC. In this report, we discuss the link between SC and PHPT and question the need for prospective observational studies to establish the true association between these conditions. Though screening PHPT patients for SC might not be justified/warranted given the benign course of the latter, patients with SC need to be assessed for PHPT, as the former may be the first clue to an underlying treatable systemic disease.

Learning points:

  • Sclerochoroidal calcifications (SCs), though rare and harmless, could be associated with an underlying systemic disease, such as primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT).
  • Biochemical screening for hypercalcaemia is a simple, cheap and widely available tool that could facilitate an identification of undiagnosed PHPT in patients with SC.
  • A joint care by endocrinologists and ophthalmologists is warranted for those patients, as thorough investigations and long-term follow-up plans are crucial.
Open access

Eleanor P Thong, Sarah Catford, Julie Fletcher, Phillip Wong, Peter J Fuller, Helena Teede, and Frances Milat

Summary

The association between type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and bone health has garnered interest over the years. Fracture risk is known to be increased in individuals with T1DM, although bone health assessment is not often performed in the clinical setting. We describe the case of a 21-year-old male with longstanding T1DM with multilevel vertebral fractures on imaging, after presenting with acute back pain without apparent trauma. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) revealed significantly reduced bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and femoral neck. Extensive investigations for other secondary or genetic causes of osteoporosis were unremarkable, apart from moderate vitamin D deficiency. High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography and bone biospy revealed significant alterations of trabecular bone microarchitecture. It later transpired that the patient had sustained vertebral fractures secondary to unrecognised nocturnal hypoglycaemic seizures. Intravenous zoledronic acid was administered for secondary fracture prevention. Despite anti-resorptive therapy, the patient sustained a new vertebral fracture after experiencing another hypoglycaemic seizure in his sleep. Bone health in T1DM is complex and not well understood. There are significant challenges in the assessment and management of osteoporosis in T1DM, particularly in young adults, where fracture prediction tools have not been validated. Clinicians should be aware of hypoglycaemia as a significant risk factor for fracture in patients with T1DM.

Learning points:

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a secondary cause of osteoporosis, characterised by reduced bone mass and disturbed bone microarchitecture.
  • Hypoglycaemic seizures generate sufficient compression forces along the thoracic column and can cause fractures in individuals with compromised bone quality.
  • Unrecognised hypoglycaemic seizures should be considered in patients with T1DM presenting with fractures without a history of trauma.
  • Patients with T1DM have increased fracture risk and risk factors should be addressed. Evaluation of bone microarchitecture may provide further insights into mechanisms of fracture in T1DM.
  • Further research is needed to guide the optimal screening and management of bone health in patients with T1DM.
Open access

Nikolaos Asonitis, Eva Kassi, Michalis Kokkinos, Ilias Giovanopoulos, Foteini Petychaki, and Helen Gogas

Summary

Hypercalcemia of malignancy is the most common cause of hypercalcemia in hospitalized patients. It is associated with a poor prognosis, since it reflects an advanced cancer stage. Among all cancer in females, breast cancer is the most common malignancy, and it has the highest prevalence of hypercalcemia. Approximately 70% of patients with breast cancer have bone metastases and 10% of them will have hypercalcemia as a complication at some point in the disease. Herein, we report a 69-year-old female patient with metastatic breast cancer, who developed severe hypercalcemia in the course of her disease and was diagnosed with humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM). Intense hydration along with corticoisteroids and antiresorptive medication (calcitonin, bisphosphonates and denosumab) were administered to the patient. Despite the above treatment, serum calcium levels remain elevated and calcimimetic cinacalcet was added. Upon discontinuation of cinacalcet, calcium levels were raised and returned back to the normal levels following re-initiation of the calcimimetic. Her calcium level restored to normal, and she was discharged with the following medical treatment: denosumab monthly, and cinacalcet at a titrated dose of 90 mg per day. The patient is followed as an outpatient and 11 months later, her calcium level remained within the normal range.

Learning points:

  • Hypercalcemia of malignancy is the most common cause of hypercalcemia in hospitalized patients.
  • Breast cancer has the highest prevalence of hypercalcemia.
  • The cornerstone of therapy remains the intense hydration and intravenous bisphosphonates (preferably zoledronic acid).
  • In case of persistent hypercalcemia of malignancy, the administration of calcimimetic cinacalcet could be an additional effective therapeutic option.
Open access

Christopher Muir, Anthony Dodds, and Katherine Samaras

Summary

Diamond–Blackfan anaemia (DBA) is a rare cause of bone marrow failure. The incidence of malignancy and endocrine complications are increased in DBA, relative to other inherited bone marrow failure syndromes. We describe an adult woman with DBA who developed osteoporosis and avascular necrosis (AVN) of both distal femora. Such endocrine complications are not uncommon in DBA, but under-appreciated, especially in adulthood. Further, rectal adenocarcinoma was diagnosed at age 32 years, requiring hemi-colectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy. Elevated cancer risk may warrant disease-specific screening guidelines. Genetic predictors of extra-haematopoetic complications in DBA are yet to be established.

Learning points:

  • Endocrine complications are common in DBA.
  • Clinical vigilance is required in managing bone health of DBA patients treated with glucocorticoids.
  • There is currently no reliable way to predict which patients will develop complications of therapy or premature malignancy related to DBA.
  • Complaints of bone or joint pain should prompt screening with targeted magnetic resonance imaging. Osteoporosis screening should be performed routinely.
Open access

Nobuhiro Miyamura, Shuhei Nishida, Mina Itasaka, Hirofumi Matsuda, Takeshi Ohtou, Yasuhiro Yamaguchi, Daisuke Inaba, Sadahiro Tamiya, and Tetsuo Nakano

Summary

Hepatitis C-associated osteosclerosis (HCAO), a very rare disorder in which an extremely rapid bone turnover occurs and results in osteosclerosis, was acknowledged in 1990s as a new clinical entity with the unique bone disorder and definite link to chronic type C hepatitis, although the pathogenesis still remains unknown. Affected patients suffer from excruciating deep bone pains. We report the 19th case of HCAO with diagnosis confirmed by bone biopsy, and treated initially with a bisphosphonate, next with corticosteroids and finally with direct acting antivirals (DAA: sofosbuvir and ribavirin) for HCV infection. Risedronate, 17.5 mg/day for 38 days, did not improve the patient’s symptoms or extremely elevated levels of bone markers, which indicated hyper-bone-formation and coexisting hyper-bone-resorption in the patient. Next, intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy followed by high-dose oral administration of prednisolone evidently improved them. DAA therapy initiated after steroid therapy successfully achieved sustained virological response, but no additional therapeutic effect on them was observed. Our results strongly suggested that the underlying immunological alteration is the crucial key to clarify the pathogenesis of HCAO. Bone mineral density of lumbar vertebrae of the patient was increased by 14% in four-month period of observation. Clarification of the mechanisms that develop osteosclerosis in HCAO might lead to a new therapeutic perspective for osteoporosis.

Learning points:

  • HCAO is an extremely rare bone disorder, which occurs exclusively in patients affected with HCV, of which only 18 cases have been reported since 1992 and pathogenesis still remains unclear.
  • Pathophysiology of HCAO is highly accelerated rates of both bone formation and bone resorption, with higher rate of formation than that of resorption, which occur in general skeletal leading to the diffuse osteosclerosis with severe bone pains.
  • Steroid therapy including intravenous pulse administration in our patient evidently ameliorated his bone pains and reduced elevated values of bone markers. This was the first successful treatment for HCAO among cases reported so far and seemed to propose a key to solve the question for its pathogenesis.
  • The speed of increase in the bone mineral content of the patient was very high, suggesting that clarification of the mechanism(s) might lead to the development of a novel therapy for osteoporosis.
Open access

Clement Olukayode Aransiola and Arinola Ipadeola

Summary

Paget's disease is a chronic and progressive disorder of bone characterized by focal areas of excessive osteoclastic resorption accompanied by a secondary increase in the osteoblastic activity. Paget's disease of bone (PBD) is a rare endocrine disease especially among Africans and Asians. Hence the detection of a case in a middle-aged Nigerian is of interest. We present the case of a 62-year-old Nigerian man in apparent good health who was found to have a markedly elevated serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) of 1179 U/l (reference range, 40–115 U/l) 4 years ago during a routine medical check-up in the USA. He had no history suggestive of PDB and also had no known family history of bone disease. Examination findings were not remarkable except for a relatively large head. A repeat ALP in our centre was 902 U/l (reference range, 40–120 U/l). Cranial CT scan showed diffuse cranial vault thickening consistent with Paget's disease which was confirmed by Tc-99m hydroxymethylene diphosphonate. He was placed on 40 mg alendronate tablets daily for 6 months. The patient has remained asymptomatic and has been in continuing biochemical remission during the 3-year follow-up period. The most recent ALP result is 88 U/l (reference range, 30–132 U/l) in April 2015.

Learning points

  • Serum total alkaline phosphatase remains a sensitive marker of bone turnover and an isolated increase above the upper limit of normal warrants more intense scrutiny in form of investigations targeted at excluding PD.
  • Paget's disease is very rare but can occur in the Africans as seen in this Nigerian man and most patients are asymptomatic.
  • Asymptomatic patients can benefit from treatment if disease is active, polyostotic or the lesions are located in bones with future risk of complications such as long bones, vertebrae and skull.
  • Bisphosphonates are still the mainstay of treatment and alendronate is a useful therapeutic option for treatment.

Open access

Marisa M Fisher, Susanne M Cabrera, and Erik A Imel

Summary

Neonatal severe hyperparathyroidism (NSHPT) is a rare disorder caused by inactivating calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) mutations that result in life-threatening hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease. Until recently, therapy has been surgical parathyroidectomy. Three previous case reports have shown successful medical management of NSHPT with cinacalcet. Here we present the detailed description of two unrelated patients with NSHPT due to heterozygous R185Q CASR mutations. Patient 1 was diagnosed at 11 months of age and had developmental delays, dysphagia, bell-shaped chest, and periosteal bone reactions. Patient 2 was diagnosed at 1 month of age and had failure to thrive, osteopenia, and multiple rib fractures. Cinacalcet was initiated at 13 months of age in patient 1, and at 4 months of age in patient 2. We have successfully normalized their parathyroid hormone and alkaline phosphatase levels. Despite the continuance of mild hypercalcemia (11–12 mg/dl), both patients showed no hypercalcemic symptoms. Importantly, patient 1 had improved neurodevelopment and patient 2 never experienced any developmental delays after starting cinacalcet. Neither experienced fractures after starting cinacalcet. Both have been successfully managed long-term without any significant adverse events. These cases expand the current literature of cinacalcet use in NSHPT to five successful reported cases. We propose that cinacalcet may be considered as an option for treating the severe hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease found in infants and children with inactivating CASR disorders.

Learning points

  • NSHPT due to mutations in the CASR gene occurs with hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease, but not always with severe critical illness in infancy.
  • NSHPT should be considered in the differential diagnosis for a newborn with a bell-shaped chest, osteopenia, and periosteal reactions.
  • Neurodevelopmental consequences may occur in children with hypercalcemia and may improve during treatment.
  • Calcimimetics can be used to successfully treat the pathophysiology of NSHPT directly to control serum calcium levels.

Open access

Mauro Boronat, Juan J Cabrera, Carmen Perera, Concepción Isla, and Francisco J Nóvoa

Summary

A man underwent total thyroidectomy for goiter when he was 62 years old. The pathology report informed on a 5.5 cm oncocytic follicular adenoma and a 3.5 mm papillary microcarcinoma. Due to the papillary tumor, he was treated with ablative radioiodine therapy and suppressive doses of levothyroxine. After uneventful follow-up for 9 years, increased levels of serum thyroglobulin were detected. Further imaging studies including a whole body scan (WBS) after an empirical dose of 200 mCi 131I were negative. Two years later, a 99mTc SestaMIBI WBS and a 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron-emission tomography showed a well-delimited focal uptake in the right femur. A bone biopsy of the lesion demonstrated metastasis of follicular thyroid carcinoma. Retrospective histological reexamination of available material from the primary oncocytic thyroid tumor failed to reveal definitive traits of malignancy.

Learning points

  • Oncocytic follicular thyroid tumors are a relatively uncommon variant of follicular thyroid neoplasms mostly composed of distinctive large oxyphilic cells (Hürthle cells).
  • Criteria for the distinction between benign and malignant oncocytic neoplasms are not different from those used in the diagnosis of ordinary follicular tumors.
  • Some cases of apparently benign oncocytic neoplasms have been found to develop malignant behavior.
  • Search to rule out vascular and capsular invasion should be particularly exhaustive in histological assessment of oncocytic thyroid tumors.
  • Even so, long-term surveillance remains appropriate for patients with large apparently benign oncocytic tumors.