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Open access

Natasha Shrikrishnapalasuriyar, Mirena Noyvirt, Philip Evans, Bethan Gibson, Elin Foden and Atul Kalhan

A 54-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with a presumed allergic reaction to a single dose of amoxicillin given for a suspected upper respiratory tract infection. She complained of chest tightness although there was no wheeze or stridor. On examination, she was pyrexial, tachycardic, hypertensive and had a diffuse mottled rash on her lower limbs. Her initial investigations showed raised inflammatory markers. She was treated in the intensive care for a presumed anaphylactic reaction with an underlying sepsis. Further investigations including CT head and CSF examination were unremarkable; however, a CT abdomen showed a 10 cm heterogeneous right adrenal mass. Based on review by the endocrine team, a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma crisis was made, which was subsequently confirmed on 24-h urinary metanephrine measurement. An emergency adrenalectomy was considered although she was deemed unfit for surgery. Despite intensive medical management, her conditioned deteriorated and she died secondary to multi-organ failure induced by pheochromocytoma crisis.

Learning points:

  • Pheochromocytoma have relatively higher prevalence in autopsy series (0.05–1%) suggestive of a diagnosis, which is often missed.

  • Pheochromocytoma crisis is an endocrine emergency characterized by hemodynamic instability induced by surge of catecholamines often precipitated by trauma and medications (β blockers, general anesthetic agents, ephedrine and steroids).

  • Pheochromocytoma crisis can mimic acute coronary syndrome, cardiogenic or septic shock.

  • Livedo reticularis can be a rare although significant cutaneous marker of underlying pheochromocytoma crisis.

Open access

Asma Deeb, Faisal Al-Zidgali and Bibian N Ofoegbu

Summary

Wolcott–Rallison syndrome (WRS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder due to mutations in the EIF2AK3 gene. It is characterized by permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus, skeletal dysplasia, liver impairment, neutropenia and renal dysfunction. Liver is the most commonly affected organ and liver failure is the commonest cause of death in this syndrome. The EIF2AK3 gene encodes a transmembrane protein PERK, which is important for the cellular response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. The absence of PERK activity reduces the ER’s abilities to deal with stress, leading to cell death by apoptosis. On acquiring febrile illness, affected patients suffer from liver injury, which may progress into liver failure and death. Renal involvement is less common and is mainly in the form of functional renal impairment at the advanced stage of the disease. Structural renal anomalies have not been reported in WRS. We report a 6-month-old girl who presented with neonatal diabetes on day 1 of life. Her genetic testing confirmed WRS due to missense mutation in the EIF2AK3 gene (c.2867G > A, p.Gly956Glu). Parents are first-degree cousins and both are heterozygous carriers to the mutation. 2 paternal uncles had the same mutation and died of liver disease at 1 and 14 years of age. Neither had a renal disease. She presented with hematuria during a febrile illness at the age of 5 months. Ultrasound scan showed right ectopic multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first patient with WRS who is reported to have an MCDK disease.

Learning points:

  • Neonatal diabetes should be considered in babies presenting with early hyperglycemia particularly if there is a family history.

  • Genetic diagnosis in neonatal diabetes enables disease confirmation, genetic counseling and anticipation of potential complications during concomitant situations such as acute illness, trauma or major surgery.

  • There is lack of phenotype–genotype correlation in Wolcott–Rallison syndrome.

  • Structural kidney abnormality, in our case MCDK, can be seen in WRS.

Open access

Elena Carrillo, Amparo Lomas, Pedro J Pinés and Cristina Lamas

Summary

Mutations in hepatocyte nuclear factor 1β gene (HNF1B) are responsible for a multisystemic syndrome where monogenic diabetes (classically known as MODY 5) and renal anomalies, mostly cysts, are the most characteristic findings. Urogenital malformations, altered liver function tests, hypomagnesemia or hyperuricemia and gout are also part of the syndrome. Diabetes in these patients usually requires early insulinization. We present the case of a young non-obese male patient with a personal history of renal multicystic dysplasia and a debut of diabetes during adolescence with simple hyperglycemia, negative pancreatic autoimmunity and detectable C-peptide levels. He also presented epididymal and seminal vesicle cysts, hypertransaminasemia, hyperuricemia and low magnesium levels. In the light of these facts we considered the possibility of a HNF1B mutation. The sequencing study of this gene confirmed a heterozygous mutation leading to a truncated and less functional protein. Genetic studies of his relatives were negative; consequently, it was classified as a de novo mutation. In particular, our patient maintained good control of his diabetes on oral antidiabetic agents for a long period of time. He eventually needed insulinization although oral therapy was continued alongside, allowing reduction of prandial insulin requirements. The real prevalence of mutations in HNF1B is probably underestimated owing to a wide phenotypical variability. As endocrinologists, we should consider this possibility in young non-obese diabetic patients with a history of chronic non-diabetic nephropathy, especially in the presence of some of the other characteristic manifestations.

Learning points:

  • HNF1B mutations are a rare cause of monogenic diabetes, often being a part of a multisystemic syndrome.

  • The combination of young-onset diabetes and genitourinary anomalies with slowly progressive nephropathy of non-diabetic origin in non-obese subjects should rise the suspicion of such occurrence. A family history may not be present.

  • Once diagnosis is made, treatment of diabetes with oral agents is worth trying, since the response can be sustained for a longer period than the one usually described. Oral treatment can help postpone insulinization and, once this is necessary, can help reduce the required doses.

Open access

Ayanthi A Wijewardene, Sarah J Glastras, Diana L Learoyd, Bruce G Robinson and Venessa H M Tsang

Summary

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare neuroendocrine tumour that originates from the parafollicular cells of the thyroid gland. The most common presentation of MTC is with a single nodule; however, by the time of diagnosis, most have spread to the surrounding cervical lymph nodes. Cushing’s syndrome is a rare complication of MTC and is due to ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) secretion by tumour cells. Cushing’s syndrome presents a challenging diagnostic and management issue in patients with MTC. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) previously used for the management of metastatic MTC have become an important therapeutic option for the management of ectopic ACTH in metastatic MTC. The article describes three cases of ectopic ACTH secretion in MTC and addresses the significant diagnostic and management challenges related to Cushing’s syndrome in metastatic MTC.

Learning points:

  • Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare neuroendocrine tumour.

  • Cushing’s syndrome is a rare complication of MTC that has a significant impact on patients’ morbidity and mortality.

  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) provide an important therapeutic option for the management of ectopic ACTH in metastatic MTC.

Open access

Han Soo Park, Su Kyoung Kwon and Ye Na Kim

Summary

Thyroid storm is a rare and potentially life-threatening medical emergency. We experienced a case of thyroid storm associated with sepsis caused by pneumonia, which had a catastrophic course including recurrent cardiac arrest and subsequent multiple organ failure (MOF). A 22-year-old female patient with a 10-year history of Graves’ disease was transferred to our emergency department (ED). She had a cardiac arrest at her home and a second cardiac arrest at the ED. Her heart recovered after 20 min of cardiac resuscitation. She was diagnosed with thyroid storm associated with hyperthyroidism complicated by pneumonia and sepsis. Although full conventional medical treatment was given, she had progressive MOF and hemodynamic instability consisting of hyperthermia, tachycardia and hypotension. Because of hepatic and renal failure with refractory hypotension, we reduced the patient’s dose of beta-blocker and antithyroid drug, and she was started on continuous veno-venous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) with intravenous albumin and plasma supplementation. Subsequently, her body temperature and pulse rate began to stabilize within 1 h, and her blood pressure reached 120/60 mmHg after 6 h. We discontinued antithyroid drug 3 days after admission because of aggravated hyperbilirubinemia. The patient exhibited progressive improvement in thyroid function even after cessation of antithyroid drug, and she successfully recovered from thyroid storm and MOF. This is the first case of thyroid storm successfully treated by CRRT in a patient considered unfit for antithyroid drug treatment.

Learning points:

  • The presenting manifestations of thyroid storm vary and can include cardiac arrest with multiorgan failure in rare cases.

  • In some patients with thyroid storm, especially those with severe complications, conventional medical treatment may be ineffective or inappropriate.

  • During thyroid storm, the initiation of CRRT can immediately lower body temperature and subsequently stabilize vital signs.

  • Early initiation of CRRT can be life-saving in patients with thyroid storm complicated by MOF, even when used in combination with suboptimal medical treatment.

Open access

Varalaxmi Bhavani Nannaka and Dmitry Lvovsky

Summary

Angina pectoris in pregnancy is unusual and Prinzmetal’s angina is much rarer. It accounts for 2% of all cases of angina. It is caused by vasospasm, but the mechanism of spasm is unknown but has been linked with hyperthyroidism in some studies. Patients with thyrotoxicosis-induced acute myocardial infarction are unusual and almost all reported cases have been associated with Graves’ disease. Human chorionic gonadotropin hormone-induced hyperthyroidism occurs in about 1.4% of pregnant women, mostly when hCG levels are above 70–80 000 IU/L. Gestational transient thyrotoxicosis is transient and generally resolves spontaneously in the latter half of pregnancy, and specific antithyroid treatment is not required. Treatment with calcium channel blockers or nitrates reduces spasm in most of these patients. Overall, the prognosis for hyperthyroidism-associated coronary vasospasm is good. We describe a very rare case of an acute myocardial infarction in a 27-year-old female, at 9 weeks of gestation due to right coronary artery spasm secondary to gestational hyperthyroidism with free thyroxine of 7.7 ng/dL and TSH <0.07 IU/L.

Learning points:

  • AMI and cardiac arrest due to GTT despite optimal medical therapy is extremely rare.

  • Gestational hyperthyroidism should be considered in pregnant patients presenting with ACS-like symptoms especially in the setting of hyperemesis gravidarum.

  • Our case highlights the need for increased awareness of general medical community that GTT can lead to significant cardiac events. Novel methods of controlling GTT as well as medical interventions like ICD need further study.

Open access

Anthony Logaraj, Venessa H M Tsang, Shahrir Kabir and Julian C Y Ip

Summary

Adrenal haemorrhage is a rare cause of adrenal crisis, which requires rapid diagnosis, prompt initiation of parenteral hydrocortisone and haemodynamic monitoring to avoid hypotensive crises. We herein describe a case of bilateral adrenal haemorrhage after hemicolectomy in a 93-year-old female with high-grade colonic adenocarcinoma. This patient’s post-operative recovery was complicated by an acute hypotensive episode, hypoglycaemia and syncope, and subsequent computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen revealed bilateral adrenal haemorrhage. Given her labile blood pressure, intravenous hydrocortisone was commenced with rapid improvement of blood pressure, which had incompletely responded with fluids. A provisional diagnosis of hypocortisolism was made. Initial heparin-induced thrombocytopenic screen (HITTS) was positive, but platelet count and coagulation profile were both normal. The patient suffered a concurrent transient ischaemic attack with no neurological deficits. She was discharged on a reducing dose of oral steroids with normal serum cortisol levels at the time of discharge. She and her family were educated about lifelong steroids and the use of parenteral steroids should a hypoadrenal crisis eventuate.

Learning points:

  • Adrenal haemorrhage is a rare cause of hypoadrenalism, and thus requires prompt diagnosis and management to prevent death from primary adrenocortical insufficiency.

  • Mechanisms of adrenal haemorrhage include reduced adrenal vascular bed capillary resistance, adrenal vein thrombosis, catecholamine-related increased adrenal blood flow and adrenal vein spasm.

  • Standard diagnostic assessment is a non-contrast CT abdomen.

  • Intravenous hydrocortisone and intravenous substitution of fluids are the initial management.

  • A formal diagnosis of primary adrenal insufficiency should never delay treatment, but should be made afterwards.

Open access

Kah-Yin Loke, Andrew Sng Anjian, Yvonne Lim Yijuan, Cindy Ho Wei Li, Maria Güemes and Khalid Hussain

Summary

Hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (HH), which causes persistent neonatal hypoglycaemia, can result in neurological damage and it’s management is challenging. Diazoxide is the first-line treatment, albeit not all patients will fully respond to it, as episodes of hypoglycaemia may persist and it entails unpleasant adverse effects. Sirolimus, an mTOR inhibitor, has reportedly been successful in treating children with severe diffuse HH, thus obviating the need for pancreatectomy. We report a girl with HH, with a novel heterozygous ABCC8 gene missense mutation (c.4154A>T/ p.Lys1385Thr), who was initially responsive to diazoxide therapy. After 11 months of diazoxide treatment, she developed intermittent, unpredictable breakthrough episodes of hypoglycaemia, in addition to generalized hypertrichosis and weight gain from enforced feeding to avoid hypoglycaemia. Sirolimus, which was commenced at 15 months of age, gradually replaced diazoxide, with significant reduction and abolition of hypoglycaemia. The hypertrichosis resolved and there was less weight gain given the reduced need for enforced feeding. Sirolimus, which was administered over the next 15 months, was well tolerated with no significant side effects and was gradually weaned off. After stopping sirolimus, apart from hypoglycaemia developing during an episode of severe viral gastroenteritis, the capillary glucose concentrations were maintained >3.5 mmol/L, even after a 10 h fast. Sirolimus may have a role in the treatment of partially diazoxide-responsive forms of HH who experience breakthrough hypoglycaemia, but the long-term safety and efficacy of sirolimus are not established.

Learning points:

  • Conventional treatment of diffuse HH with diazoxide is not always effective in controlling hypoglycaemia and can be associated with unpleasant side effects.

  • Sirolimus was successfully used to abolish recurrent hypoglycaemia in partially diazoxide-responsive HH, with resolution of unacceptable diazoxide-associated side effects.

  • Sirolimus was well tolerated with no clinically significant side effects.

  • Shortly after stopping sirolimus, the capillary glucose levels remained normoglycemic.

Open access

Ling Zhu, Sueziani Binte Zainudin, Manish Kaushik, Li Yan Khor and Chiaw Ling Chng

Summary

Type II amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIT) is an uncommon cause of thyroid storm. Due to the rarity of the condition, little is known about the role of plasma exchange in the treatment of severe AIT. A 56-year-old male presented with thyroid storm 2months following cessation of amiodarone. Despite conventional treatment, his condition deteriorated. He underwent two cycles of plasma exchange, which successfully controlled the severe hyperthyroidism. The thyroid hormone levels continued to fall up to 10h following plasma exchange. He subsequently underwent emergency total thyroidectomy and the histology of thyroid gland confirmed type II AIT. Management of thyroid storm secondary to type II AIT can be challenging as patients may not respond to conventional treatments, and thyroid storm may be more harmful in AIT patients owing to the underlying cardiac disease. If used appropriately, plasma exchange can effectively reduce circulating hormones, to allow stabilisation of patients in preparation for emergency thyroidectomy.

Learning points

  • Type II AIT is an uncommon cause of thyroid storm and may not respond well to conventional thyroid storm treatment.

  • Prompt diagnosis and therapy are important, as patients may deteriorate rapidly.

  • Plasma exchange can be used as an effective bridging therapy to emergency thyroidectomy.

  • This case shows that in type II AIT, each cycle of plasma exchange can potentially lower free triiodothyronine levels for 10h.

  • Important factors to consider when planning plasma exchange as a treatment for thyroid storm include timing of each session, type of exchange fluid to be used and timing of surgery.

Open access

Nicola Tufton, Nazhri Hashim, Candy Sze and Mona Waterhouse

Summary

A 57-year-old female presented 17 days after treatment with radioactive iodine (RAI) for difficult-to-control hyperthyroidism. She was febrile, had a sinus tachycardia, and was clinically thyrotoxic. Her thyroid function tests showed a suppressed TSH <0.02 mU/l, with free thyroxine (FT4) >75 pmol/l and total triiodothyronine (TT3) 6.0 nmol/l. She was diagnosed with thyroid storm and was managed with i.v. fluids, propylthiouracil (PTU) 200 mg four times a day, prednisolone 30 mg once daily and propanolol 10 mg three times a day. She gradually improved over 2 weeks and was discharged home on PTU with β blockade. On clinic review 10 days later, it was noted that, although she was starting to feel better, she had grossly abnormal liver function (alanine transaminase (ALT) 852 U/l, bilirubin 46 μmol/l, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) 303 U/l, international normalized ratio (INR) 0.9, platelets 195×109/l). She was still mildly thyrotoxic (TSH <0.02 mU/l, FT4 31 pmol/l, TT3 1.3 nmol/l). She was diagnosed with acute hepatitis secondary to treatment with PTU. Ultrasound showed mild hepatic steatosis. PTU was stopped and she was managed with fluids and prednisolone 60 mg once daily and continued β blockade. Her liver function gradually improved over 10 days (bilirubin 9 μmol/l, ALT 164 U/l, ALP 195 U/l, INR 0.9, platelets 323×109/l) with conservative management and had normalised by clinic review 3 weeks later. This case highlights the potentially fatal, but rare, complications associated with both RAI and PTU, namely, thyroid storm and acute hepatitis respectively.

Learning points

  • Thyroid storm is an important, albeit rare, endocrinological emergency.

  • Thyroid storm following RAI treatment is extremely rare.

  • Management is with i.v. fluids, β blockade, anti-thyroid drugs and steroids.

  • High dose glucocorticoid steroids can block the peripheral conversion of T4 to active T3.

  • Liver dysfunction, acute hepatitis and potential hepatic failure are significant adverse drug reactions known to occur with PTU treatment. Supervising clinicians should be vigilant for evidence of this developing and intervene accordingly.

  • Clinicians need to be aware of possible interactions between regular paracetamol use and PTU in predisposing to liver impairment.