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Open access

Ulla Kampmann, Per Glud Ovesen, Niels Møller, and Jens Fuglsang

Summary

During pregnancy, maternal tissues become increasingly insensitive to insulin in order to liberate nutritional supply to the growing fetus, but occasionally insulin resistance in pregnancy becomes severe and the treatment challenging. We report a rare and clinically difficult case of extreme insulin resistance with daily insulin requirements of 1420 IU/day during pregnancy in an obese 36-year-old woman with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The woman was referred to the outpatient clinic at gestational week 12 + 2 with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) at 59 mmol/mol. Insulin treatment was initiated immediately using Novomix 30, and the doses were progressively increased, peaking at 1420 units/day at week 34 + 4. At week 35 + 0, there was an abrupt fall in insulin requirements, but with no signs of placental insufficiency. At week 36 + 1 a, healthy baby with no hypoglycemia was delivered by cesarean section. Blood samples were taken late in pregnancy to search for causes of extreme insulin resistance and showed high levels of C-peptide, proinsulin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), mannan-binding-lectin (MBL) and leptin. CRP was mildly elevated, but otherwise, levels of inflammatory markers were normal. Insulin antibodies were undetectable, and no mutations in the insulin receptor (INSR) gene were found. The explanation for the severe insulin resistance, in this case, can be ascribed to PCOS, obesity, profound weight gain, hyperleptinemia and inactivity. This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements close to 1500 IU/day with a successful outcome, illustrating the importance of a close interdisciplinary collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists.

Learning points

  • This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements of up to 1420 IU/day with a successful outcome without significant fetal macrosomia and hypoglycemia.
  • Obesity, PCOS, T2D and high levels of leptin and IGF-1 are predictors of severe insulin resistance in pregnancy.
  • A close collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists is crucial for tailoring the best possible treatment for pregnant women with diabetes, beneficial for both the mother and her child.
Open access

Natassia Rodrigo, Diana Learoyd, and Sarah J Glastras

Summary

Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon, with associated adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes for both the mother and the fetus. Determination of causality is central to its management. Diagnostic imaging techniques are limited during pregnancy and the diagnosis is made more complex by physiological changes in calcium and vitamin D homeostasis in pregnancy. Further, therapeutic options are limited due to safety considerations for the pregnant woman and the developing foetus. Three cases of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy will be presented, highlighting the distinct aetiologies and management strategies for hypercalcaemia in pregnancy and the importance of early measurement of serum calcium in pregnancy screening.

Learning points

  • There are complex physiological changes in calcium balance in pregnancy, including increased calcium intestinal absorption and renal excretion.
  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon but has important potential maternal and foetal complications, making a compelling argument for routine antenatal, calcium screening.
  • Identifying the cause of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be challenging due to the complex placental interplay in biochemical test interpretation and due to safety constraints restricting imaging and surgery.
  • Acute medical management of hypercalcaemia must be considered in the context of both maternal and foetal well-being, along with gestational age and specific consideration for the safety of the developing fetus in late gestation.
Open access

Sarah Ying Tse Tan, Swee Ping Teh, Manish Kaushik, Tze Tein Yong, Shivani Durai, Claudia Jong-Chie Tien, and Daphne Su-Lyn Gardner

Summary

Gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis is associated with significant maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. We report a case of gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis in a primigravida at 31-weeks gestation, complicated by impending preterm labor and metabolic acidosis requiring hemodialysis. This was successfully managed with therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), followed by i.v. insulin, low-fat diet, and omega-3. Triglyceride levels stabilized after TPE and the patient underwent an uncomplicated term delivery. In pregnancy, elevated estrogen and insulin resistance exacerbate hypertriglyceridemia. Management is challenging as risks and benefits of treatment options need to be weighed against fetal wellbeing. We discuss management options including a review of previous case reports detailing TPE use, dietary optimization, and delivery timing. This case emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary care to optimize maternal and fetal outcomes.

Learning points

  • Gestational hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis has high morbidity.
  • A multidisciplinary team approach is a key as maternal and fetal needs must be addressed.
  • Rapid lowering of triglycerides is crucial and can be achieved successfully and safely with plasma exchange.
  • A low-fat diet while ensuring adequate nutrition in pregnancy is important.
  • Timing of delivery requires consideration of fetal maturity and risk of recurrent pancreatitis.
Open access

Chi-Hong Ng, Wing-Sun Chow, Karen Siu-Ling Lam, and Chi-Ho Lee

Summary

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)-secreting pituitary adenoma (TSHoma) is an uncommon cause of thyrotoxicosis, and is even rarer when found during pregnancy. Our patient presented with thyrotoxicosis accompanied by an inappropriately normal TSH level at 10 weeks of gestation during work-up of surgical termination of pregnancy (STOP). Subsequent investigations performed after STOP confirmed the presence of a TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma. She was initially treated with anti-thyroid drugs for biochemical control, followed by trans-sphenoidal surgery after STOP had been performed. Her thyroid function completely normalized after the trans-sphenoidal surgery. Our case illustrated the importance of recognizing the syndrome of inappropriate TSH secretion and highlighted several pregnancy-related aspects in the diagnosis and management of TSHoma during pregnancy.

Learning points:

  • This case report illustrates the need to raise awareness in recognizing the syndrome of inappropriate TSH secretion.
  • Illustrate the different hormone tests available for reaching the diagnosis of TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma.
  • Highlight the physiological changes in the thyroid status during pregnancy and the importance of using trimester-specific reference ranges for assessment of thyroid function during pregnancy.
  • Describe the challenges in the management of TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma during pregnancy.
Open access

Sofia Pilar Ildefonso-Najarro, Esteban Alberto Plasencia-Dueñas, Cesar Joel Benites-Moya, Jose Carrion-Rojas, and Marcio Jose Concepción-Zavaleta

Summary

Cushing’s syndrome is an endocrine disorder that causes anovulatory infertility secondary to hypercortisolism; therefore, pregnancy rarely occurs during its course. We present the case of a 24-year-old, 16-week pregnant female with a 10-month history of unintentional weight gain, dorsal gibbus, nonpruritic comedones, hirsutism and hair loss. Initial biochemical, hormonal and ultrasound investigations revealed hypokalemia, increased nocturnal cortisolemia and a right adrenal mass. The patient had persistent high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and hypercortisolemia. She was initially treated with antihypertensive medications and insulin therapy. Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome was confirmed by an abdominal MRI that demonstrated a right adrenal adenoma. The patient underwent right laparoscopic adrenalectomy and anatomopathological examination revealed an adrenal adenoma with areas of oncocytic changes. Finally, antihypertensive medication was progressively reduced and glycemic control and hypokalemia reversal were achieved. Long-term therapy consisted of low-dose daily prednisone. During follow-up, despite favorable outcomes regarding the patient’s Cushing’s syndrome, stillbirth was confirmed at 28 weeks of pregnancy. We discuss the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s syndrome to prevent severe maternal and fetal complications.

Learning points:

  • Pregnancy can occur, though rarely, during the course of Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Pregnancy is a transient physiological state of hypercortisolism and it must be differentiated from Cushing’s syndrome based on clinical manifestations and laboratory tests.
  • The diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome during pregnancy may be challenging, particularly in the second and third trimesters because of the changes in the maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
  • Pregnancy during the course of Cushing’s syndrome is associated with severe maternal and fetal complications; therefore, its early diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Open access

Pedro Marques, Nicola Tufton, Satya Bhattacharya, Mark Caulfield, and Scott A Akker

Summary

Mineralocorticoid hypertension is most often caused by autonomous overproduction of aldosterone, but excess of other mineralocorticoid precursors can lead to a similar presentation. 11-Deoxycorticosterone (DOC) excess, which can occur in 11-β hydroxylase or 17-α hydroxylase deficiencies, in DOC-producing adrenocortical tumours or in patients taking 11-β hydroxylase inhibitors, may cause mineralocorticoid hypertension. We report a 35-year-old woman who in the third trimester of pregnancy was found to have a large adrenal mass on routine obstetric ultrasound. On referral to our unit, persistent hypertension and long-standing hypokalaemia was noted, despite good compliance with multiple antihypertensives. Ten years earlier, she had hypertension noted in pregnancy which had persisted after delivery. A MRI scan confirmed the presence of a 12 cm adrenal mass and biochemistry revealed high levels of DOC and low/normal renin, aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone, with normal catecholamine levels. The patient was treated with antihypertensives until obstetric delivery, following which she underwent an adrenalectomy. Histology confirmed a large adrenal cortical neoplasm of uncertain malignant potential. Postoperatively, blood pressure and serum potassium normalised, and the antihypertensive medication was stopped. Over 10 years of follow-up, she remains asymptomatic with normal DOC measurements. This case should alert clinicians to the possibility of a diagnosis of a DOC-producing adrenal tumours in patients with adrenal nodules and apparent mineralocorticoid hypertension in the presence of low or normal levels of aldosterone. The associated diagnostic and management challenges are discussed.

Learning points:

  • Hypermineralocorticoidism is characterised by hypertension, volume expansion and hypokalaemic alkalosis and is most commonly due to overproduction of aldosterone. However, excess of other mineralocorticoid products, such as DOC, lead to the same syndrome but with normal or low aldosterone levels.
  • The differential diagnosis of resistant hypertension with low renin and low/normal aldosterone includes congenital adrenal hyperplasia, syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess, Cushing’s syndrome, Liddle’s syndrome and 11-deoxycorticosterone-producing tumours.
  • DOC is one intermediate product in the mineralocorticoid synthesis with weaker activity than aldosterone. However, marked DOC excess seen in 11-β hydroxylase or 17-α hydroxylase deficiencies in DOC-producing adrenocortical tumours or in patients taking 11-β hydroxylase inhibitors, may cause mineralocorticoid hypertension.
  • Excessive production of DOC in adrenocortical tumours has been attributed to reduced activity of the enzymes 11-β hydroxylase and 17-α hydroxylase and increased activity of 21-α hydroxylase.
  • The diagnosis of DOC-producing adrenal tumours is challenging because of its rarity and poor availability of DOC laboratory assays.
Open access

Matthieu St-Jean, Jessica MacKenzie-Feder, Isabelle Bourdeau, and André Lacroix

Summary

A 29-year-old G4A3 woman presented at 25 weeks of pregnancy with progressive signs of Cushing’s syndrome (CS), gestational diabetes requiring insulin and hypertension. A 3.4 × 3.3 cm right adrenal adenoma was identified during abdominal ultrasound imaging for nephrolithiasis. Investigation revealed elevated levels of plasma cortisol, 24 h urinary free cortisol (UFC) and late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC). Serum ACTH levels were not fully suppressed (4 and 5 pmol/L (N: 2–11)). One month post-partum, CS regressed, 24-h UFC had normalised while ACTH levels were now less than 2 pmol/L; however, dexamethasone failed to suppress cortisol levels. Tests performed in vivo 6 weeks post-partum to identify aberrant hormone receptors showed no cortisol stimulation by various tests (including 300 IU hLH i.v.) except after administration of 250 µg i.v. Cosyntropin 1–24. Right adrenalectomy demonstrated an adrenocortical adenoma and atrophy of adjacent cortex. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the adenoma revealed the presence of ACTH (MC2) receptor mRNA, while LHCG receptor mRNA was almost undetectable. This case reveals that CS exacerbation in the context of pregnancy can result from the placental-derived ACTH stimulation of MC2 receptors on the adrenocortical adenoma. Possible contribution of other placental-derived factors such as oestrogens, CRH or CRH-like peptides cannot be ruled out.

Learning points:

  • Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome during pregnancy is complicated by several physiological alterations in hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis regulation occurring in normal pregnancy.
  • Cushing’s syndrome (CS) exacerbation during pregnancy can be associated with aberrant expression of LHCG receptor on primary adrenocortical tumour or hyperplasia in some cases, but not in this patient.
  • Placental-derived ACTH, which is not subject to glucocorticoid negative feedback, stimulated cortisol secretion from this adrenal adenoma causing transient CS exacerbation during pregnancy.
  • Following delivery and tumour removal, suppression of HPA axis can require several months to recover and requires glucocorticoid replacement therapy.
Open access

Wael M Almistehi and Mussa H Almalki

Summary

Giant prolactinomas are a rare entity; during pregnancy, the risk for complications associated with these tumors is higher. Here, we report a case of a young woman who had an invasive, giant prolactinoma post resection with residual disease who became pregnant. This patient was treated with cabergoline to prevent tumor expansion in pregnancy, resulting in the uneventful delivery of a healthy baby boy.

Learning points:

  • Giant prolactinoma can cause both diagnostic and therapeutic challenges given their atypical presentation.
  • Accurate diagnosis is paramount to avoid unnecessary surgical intervention or pituitary irradiation.
  • This case demonstrates the effectiveness and safety of CAB therapy during pregnancy.
Open access

Diana Oliveira, Adriana Lages, Sandra Paiva, and Francisco Carrilho

Summary

Addison’s disease, or primary adrenocortical insufficiency, is a long-term, potentially severe, rare endocrine disorder. In pregnancy, it is even rarer. We report the case of a 30-year-old pregnant patient with Addison’s disease, referred to Obstetrics-Endocrinology specialty consult at 14 weeks gestation. She had been to the emergency department of her local hospital various times during the first trimester presenting with a clinical scenario suggestive of glucocorticoid under-replacement (nausea, persistent vomiting and hypotension), but this was interpreted as normal pregnancy symptoms. Hydrocortisone dose was adjusted, and the patient maintained regular follow-up. No complications were reported for the remainder of gestation and delivery. Pregnant patients with Addison’s disease should be monitored during gestation and in the peripartum period by multidisciplinary teams. Adjustments in glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy are often necessary, and monitoring should be based mainly on clinical findings, which becomes increasingly difficult during pregnancy. Patient education and specialized monitoring are key to avoiding complications from under- or over-replacement therapy in this period.

Learning points:

  • An increase in glucocorticoid replacement dose is expected to be necessary during pregnancy in a woman with Addison’s disease.
  • Patient education regarding steroid cover and symptoms of acute adrenal crisis are fundamental.
  • Monitoring in this period is challenging and remains mainly clinical.
  • The increase in hydrocortisone dose often obviates the need to increase fludrocortisone dose.
Open access

Carine Ghassan Richa, Khadija Jamal Saad, Ali Khaled Chaaban, and Mohamad Souheil El Rawas

Summary

The objective of the study is to report a case of acute pancreatitis secondary to hypercalcemia induced by primary hyperparathyroidism in a pregnant woman at the end of the first trimester. The case included a 32-year-old woman who was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and severe hypercalcemia refractory to many regimens of medical therapy in the first trimester of pregnancy. She was successfully treated with parathyroidectomy in the early second trimester with complete resolution of hypercalcemia and pancreatitis. Neonatal course was unremarkable. To our best knowledge, this is a rare case when primary hyperparathyroidism and its complications are diagnosed in the first trimester of pregnancy. In conclusion, primary hyperparathyroidism is a rare life-threatening condition to the fetus and mother especially when associated with complications such as pancreatitis. Early therapeutic intervention is important to reduce the morbidity and mortality. Parathyroidectomy performed in the second trimester can be the only solution.

Learning points:

  • Learning how to make diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism in a woman during the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Understanding the complications of hypercalcemia and be aware of the high mortality and sequelae in both fetus and mother.
  • Providing the adequate treatment in such complicated cases with coordinated care between endocrinologists and obstetricians to ensure optimal outcomes.