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Open access

C Kamath, J Witczak, M A Adlan and L D Premawardhana

Summary

Thymic enlargement (TE) in Graves’ disease (GD) is often diagnosed incidentally when chest imaging is done for unrelated reasons. This is becoming more common as the frequency of chest imaging increases. There are currently no clear guidelines for managing TE in GD. Subject 1 is a 36-year-old female who presented with weight loss, increased thirst and passage of urine and postural symptoms. Investigations confirmed GD, non-PTH-dependent hypercalcaemia and Addison’s disease (AD). CT scans to exclude underlying malignancy showed TE but normal viscera. A diagnosis of hypercalcaemia due to GD and AD was made. Subject 2, a 52-year-old female, was investigated for recurrent chest infections, haemoptysis and weight loss. CT thorax to exclude chest malignancy, showed TE. Planned thoracotomy was postponed when investigations confirmed GD. Subject 3 is a 47-year-old female who presented with breathlessness, chest pain and shakiness. Investigations confirmed T3 toxicosis due to GD. A CT pulmonary angiogram to exclude pulmonary embolism showed TE. The CT appearances in all three subjects were consistent with benign TE. These subjects were given appropriate endocrine treatment only (without biopsy or thymectomy) as CT appearances showed the following appearances of benign TE – arrowhead shape, straight regular margins, absence of calcification and cyst formation and radiodensity equal to surrounding muscle. Furthermore, interval scans confirmed thymic regression of over 60% in 6 months after endocrine control. In subjects with CT appearances consistent with benign TE, a conservative policy with interval CT scans at 6 months after endocrine control will prevent inappropriate surgical intervention.

Learning points:

  • Chest imaging is common in modern clinical practice and incidental anterior mediastinal abnormalities are therefore diagnosed frequently.

  • Thymic enlargement (TE) associated with Graves’ disease (GD) is occasionally seen in view of the above.

  • There is no validated strategy to manage TE in GD at present.

  • However, CT (or MRI) scan features of the thymus may help characterise benign TE, and such subjects do not require thymic biopsy or surgery at presentation.

  • In them, an expectant ‘wait and see’ policy is recommended with GD treatment only, as the thymus will show significant regression 6 months after endocrine control.

Open access

Kate Laycock, Abhijit Chaudhuri, Charlotte Fuller, Zahra Khatami, Frederick Nkonge and Nemanja Stojanovic

Summary

Hashimoto’s encephalopathy (HE) is rarely reported with only a few hundred cases published. Diagnosis is made in patients with an appropriate clinical picture and high antithyroperoxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies after infectious, toxic and metabolic causes of encephalopathy have been excluded. There is little objective data on the neurocognitive impairment in patients with HE and their improvement with treatment. We present the case of a 28-year-old woman with HE. Approach to management was novel as objective neuropsychological assessment was used to assess her clinical condition and response to treatment. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) as the first-line treatment instead of steroids. She responded well. The case illustrates that a different approach is required for the diagnosis and treatment of HE. A new diagnostic criteria is proposed that includes neurocognitive assessment, serum and CSF antibodies, an abnormal EEG and exclusion of other causes of encephalopathy. Furthermore, treatment should be tailored to the patient.

Learning points:

  • Neurocognitive assessment should be carried out to assess the extent of brain involvement in suspected Hashimoto’s encephalopathy pre- and post- treatment.

  • Treatment of Hashimoto’s encephalopathy should be tailored to the patient.

  • Unifying diagnostic criteria for Hashimoto’s encephalopathy must be established.

Open access

Florence Gunawan, Elizabeth George and Adam Roberts

Summary

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are the mainstay of treatment for advanced melanoma, and their use is being increasingly implicated in the development of autoimmune endocrinopathies. We present a case of a 52-year-old man with metastatic melanoma on combination nivolumab and ipilumimab therapy who developed concurrent hypophysitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and diabetes insipidus. He presented prior to third cycle of combination treatment with a headache, myalgias and fatigue. Biochemistry and MRI pituitary confirmed anterior pituitary dysfunction with a TSH: 0.02 mU/L (0.5–5.5 mU/L), fT4: 5.2 pmol/L (11–22 pmol/L), fT3: 4.0 pmol/L (3.2–6.4 pmol/L), cortisol (12:00 h): <9 nmol/L (74–286 nmol/L), FSH: 0.7 IU/L (1.5–9.7 IU/L), LH: <0.1 IU/L (1.8–9.2 IU/L), PRL: 1 mIU/L (90–400 mIU/L), SHBG: 34 nmol/L (19–764 nmol/L) and total testosterone: <0.4 nmol/L (9.9–27.8 nmol/L). High-dose dexamethasone (8 mg) was administered followed by hydrocortisone, thyroxine and topical testosterone replacement. Two weeks post administration of the third cycle, he became unwell with lethargy, weight loss and nocturia. Central diabetes insipidus was diagnosed on the basis of symptoms and sodium of 149 mmol/L (135–145 mmol/L). Desmopressin nasal spray was instituted with symptom resolution and normalization of serum sodium. Three weeks later, he presented again polyuric and polydipsic. His capillary glucose was 20.8 mmol/L (ketones of 2.4 mmol), low C-peptide 0.05 nmol/L (0.4–1.5 nmol/L) and HbA1c of 7.7%. T1DM was suspected, and he was commenced on an insulin infusion with rapid symptom resolution. Insulin antibodies glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), insulin antibody-2 (IA-2) and zinc transporter-8 (ZnT8) were negative. A follow-up MRI pituitary revealed findings consistent with recovering autoimmune hypophysitis. Immunotherapy was discontinued based on the extent of these autoimmune endocrinopathies.

Learning points:

  • The most effective regime for treatment of metastatic melanoma is combination immunotherapy with nivolumab and ipilumimab, and this therapy is associated with a high incidence of autoimmune endocrinopathies.

  • Given the high prevalence of immune-related adverse events, the threshold for functional testing should be low.

  • Traditional antibody testing may not be reliable to identify early-onset endocrinopathy.

  • Routine screening pathways have yet to be adequately validated through clinical trials.

Open access

Tessa Glyn, Beverley Harris and Kate Allen

Summary

We present the case of a 57-year-old lady who had a delayed diagnosis of central hypothyroidism on a background of Grave’s thyrotoxicosis and a partial thyroidectomy. During the twenty years following her partial thyroidectomy, the patient developed a constellation of symptoms and new diagnoses, which were investigated by numerous specialists from various fields, namely rheumatology, renal and respiratory. She developed significantly impaired renal function and raised creatine kinase (CK). She was also referred to a tertiary neurology service for investigation of myositis, which resulted in inconclusive muscle biopsies. Recurrently normal TSH results reassured clinicians that this did not relate to previous thyroid dysfunction. In 2015, she developed increased shortness of breath and was found to have a significant pericardial effusion. The clinical biochemist reviewed this lady’s blood results and elected to add on a free T4 (fT4) and free T3 (fT3), which were found to be <0.4 pmol/L (normal range (NR): 12–22 pmol/L) and 0.3 pmol/L (NR: 3.1–6.8 pmol/L), respectively. She was referred urgently to the endocrine services and commenced on Levothyroxine replacement for profound central hypothyroidism. Her other pituitary hormones and MRI were normal. In the following year, her eGFR and CK normalised, and her myositis symptoms, breathlessness and pericardial effusion resolved. One year following initiation of Levothyroxine, her fT4 and fT3 were in the normal range for the first time. This case highlights the pitfalls of relying purely on TSH for excluding hypothyroidism and the devastating effect the delay in diagnosis had upon this patient.

Learning points:

  • Isolated central hypothyroidism is very rare, but should be considered irrespective of previous thyroid disorders.

  • If clinicians have a strong suspicion that a patient may have hypothyroidism despite normal TSH, they should ensure they measure fT3 and fT4.

  • Laboratories that do not perform fT3 and fT4 routinely should review advice sent to requesting clinicians to include a statement explaining that a normal TSH excludes primary but not secondary hypothyroidism.

  • Thyroid function tests should be performed routinely in patients presenting with renal impairment or a raised CK.

Open access

Alexandra Rose Pain, Josh Pomroy and Andrea Benjamin

Summary

Hamman’s syndrome (spontaneous subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum) is a rare complication of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), with a multifactorial etiology. Awareness of this syndrome is important: it is likely underdiagnosed as the main symptom of shortness of breath is often attributed to Kussmaul’s breathing and the findings on chest radiograph can be subtle and easily missed. It is also important to be aware of and consider Boerhaave’s syndrome as a differential diagnosis, a more serious condition with a 40% mortality rate when diagnosis is delayed. We present a case of pneumomediastinum, pneumopericardium, epidural emphysema and subcutaneous emphysema complicating DKA in an eighteen-year-old patient. We hope that increasing awareness of Hamman’s syndrome, and how to distinguish it from Boerhaave’s syndrome, will lead to better recognition and management of these syndromes in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Learning points:

  • Hamman’s syndrome (spontaneous subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum) is a rare complication of DKA.

  • Presentation may be with chest or neck pain and shortness of breath, and signs are subcutaneous emphysema and Hamman’s sign – a precordial crunching or popping sound during systole.

  • Boerhaave’s syndrome should be considered as a differential diagnosis, especially in cases with severe vomiting.

  • The diagnosis of pneumomediastinum is made on chest radiograph, but a CT thorax with water-soluble oral contrast looking for contrast leak may be required if there is high clinical suspicion of Boerrhave’s syndrome.

  • Hamman’s syndrome has an excellent prognosis, self-resolving with the correction of the ketoacidosis in all published cases in the literature.

Open access

Gordon Sloan, Amjad Ali and Jonathan Webster

Summary

Ketoacidosis occurring during lactation has been described infrequently. The condition is incompletely understood, but it appears to be associated with a combination of increased metabolic demands during lactation, reduction in carbohydrate intake and acute illness. We present a case of a 27-year-old woman, 8 weeks post-partum, who was exclusively breastfeeding her child whilst following a low carbohydrate diet. She developed gastroenteritis and was unable to tolerate an oral diet for several days. She presented with severe metabolic acidosis on admission with a blood 3-hydroxybutyrate of 5.4 mmol/L. She was treated with intravenous dextrose and intravenous sodium bicarbonate, and given dietary advice to increase her carbohydrate intake. She made a rapid and full recovery. We provide a summary of the common causes of ketoacidosis and compare our case with other presentations of lactation ketoacidosis.

Learning points:

  • Ketoacidosis in the lactating woman is a rare cause of raised anion gap metabolic acidosis.

  • Low carbohydrate intake, starvation, intercurrent illness or a combination of these factors could put breastfeeding women at risk of ketoacidosis.

  • Ketoacidosis in the lactating woman has been shown to resolve rapidly with sufficient carbohydrate intake and intravenous dextrose.

  • Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential because the condition is reported to be reversible with a low chance of recurrence with appropriate dietary advice.

Open access

Yael R Nobel, Maya B Lodish, Margarita Raygada, Jaydira Del Rivero, Fabio R Faucz, Smita B Abraham, Charalampos Lyssikatos, Elena Belyavskaya, Constantine A Stratakis and Mihail Zilbermint

Summary

Autosomal recessive pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA1) is a rare disorder characterized by sodium wasting, failure to thrive, hyperkalemia, hypovolemia and metabolic acidosis. It is due to mutations in the amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and is characterized by diminished response to aldosterone. Patients may present with life-threatening hyperkalemia, which must be recognized and appropriately treated. A 32-year-old female was referred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for evaluation of hyperkalemia and muscle pain. Her condition started in the second week of life, when she was brought to an outside hospital lethargic and unresponsive. At that time, she was hypovolemic, hyperkalemic and acidotic, and was eventually treated with sodium bicarbonate and potassium chelation. At the time of the presentation to the NIH, her laboratory evaluation revealed serum potassium 5.1 mmol/l (reference range: 3.4–5.1 mmol/l), aldosterone 2800 ng/dl (reference range: ≤21 ng/dl) and plasma renin activity 90 ng/ml/h (reference range: 0.6–4.3 ng/ml per h). Diagnosis of PHA1 was suspected. Sequencing of the SCNN1B gene, which codes for ENaC, revealed that the patient is a compound heterozygote for two novel variants (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A), confirming the suspected diagnosis of PHA1. In conclusion, we report a patient with novel variants of the SCNN1B gene causing PHA1 with persistent, symptomatic hyperkalemia.

Learning points

  • PHA1 is a rare genetic condition, causing functional abnormalities of the amiloride-sensitive ENaC.

  • PHA1 was caused by previously unreported SCNN1B gene mutations (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A).

  • Early recognition of this condition and adherence to symptomatic therapy is important, as the electrolyte abnormalities found may lead to severe dehydration, cardiac arrhythmias and even death.

  • High doses of sodium polystyrene sulfonate, sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate are required for symptomatic treatment.

Open access

Maria P Yavropoulou, Nikolina Gerothanasi, Athanasios Frydas, Evangelia Triantafyllou, Chris Poulios, Prodromos Hytiroglou, Panagiotis Apostolou, Ioannis Papasotiriou, Symeon Tournis, Isaak Kesisoglou and John G Yovos

Summary

Tumor-induced osteomalacia (TIO) is a rare paraneoplastic syndrome caused primarily by benign mesenchymal tumors. These tumors typically follow a benign clinical course and local recurrence occurs in <5% of cases. We investigated a 49-year-old man with a recurrent mesenchymal phosphaturic tumor showing no signs of malignancy. The patient suffered from chronic muscle weakness, myalgia and cramps. His medical record included the diagnosis of oncogenic osteomalacia, for which he was submitted to tumor resection in the left leg three times before. Laboratory examination showed hypophosphatemia, hyperphosphaturia and an elevated serum FGF23 level. A radical surgical approach (amputation) was advised, however, complete biochemical and clinical remission was not reached. Molecular analysis of the tumor cells demonstrated overexpression of growth factor receptors implicated in tumor angiogenesis and metastatic potential (platelet derived growth factor type A (PDGFRA), PDGFRB and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor) together with increased expression of FGF23, x-linked-phosphate-regulating endopeptidase and KLOTHO. TIO is usually associated with benign phosphauturic tumors and, when identified, resection of the tumor leads to complete remission in the majority of cases. The underlying pathophysiology of recurrences in these tumors is not known. This is the first report showing increased expression of growth factor receptors in a locally aggressive but histopathologically benign phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor.

Learning points

  • TIO is usually associated with benign soft tissue or bone neoplasms of mesenchymal origin.

  • These tumors typically follow a benign clinical course and even in the rare malignant cases local recurrence occurs in <5%.

  • Successful identification and removal of the tumor leads to full recovery in the majority of cases.

Open access

Soham Mukherjee, Anuradha Aggarwal, Ashu Rastogi, Anil Bhansali, Mahesh Prakash, Kim Vaiphei and Pinaki Dutta

Summary

Spontaneous diabetic muscle infarction (DMI) is a rare and under diagnosed complication of diabetes mellitus. Clinically it presents with acute to subacute onset swelling, pain and tenderness of muscle(s) without systemic manifestations. MRI is helpful in diagnosis, exclusion of other causes and for localization of affected muscle for biopsy in atypical cases. Muscles of the thighs are commonly affected in diabetic myonecrosis (DMN). Here we present the summary of four cases seen in the last 3 years in a tertiary care centre with simultaneous or sequential involvement of multiple groups of muscles or involvement of uncommon sites. All these patients had advanced duration of diabetes with microvascular complications and poor glycemic control. Conservative management including rest and analgesics is the treatment of choice. Short-term prognosis is good but there may be recurrence.

Learning points

  • A high index of suspicion is required for the diagnosis of DMN which can avoid inadvertent use of antibiotics.

  • Acute–subacute onset severe focal muscle pain in the absence of systemic symptoms in a female patient with long-standing diabetes with microvascular complications suggests DMI.

  • MRI is the most sensitive test for diagnosis.

  • Muscle biopsy should be reserved for atypical cases.

  • Conservative management including rest and analgesics has good outcome.

  • Improvement usually occurs within 6–8 weeks, but there may be recurrence.

Open access

Anna Casteràs, Jürgen Kratzsch, Ángel Ferrández, Carles Zafón, Antonio Carrascosa and Jordi Mesa

Summary

Isolated GH deficiency type IA (IGHDIA) is an infrequent cause of severe congenital GHD, often managed by pediatric endocrinologists, and hence few cases in adulthood have been reported. Herein, we describe the clinical status of a 56-year-old male with IGHDIA due to a 6.7 kb deletion in GH1 gene that encodes GH, located on chromosome 17. We also describe phenotypic and biochemical parameters, as well as characterization of anti-GH antibodies after a new attempt made to treat with GH. The height of the adult patient was 123 cm. He presented with type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, osteoporosis, and low physical and psychological performance, compatible with GHD symptomatology. Anti-GH antibodies in high titers and with binding activity (>101 IU/ml) were found 50 years after exposure to exogenous GH, and their levels increased significantly (>200 U/ml) after a 3-month course of 0.2 mg/day recombinant human GH (rhGH) treatment. Higher doses of rhGH (1 mg daily) did not overcome the blockade, and no change in undetectable IGF1 levels was observed (<25 ng/ml). IGHDIA patients need lifelong medical surveillance, focusing mainly on metabolic disturbances, bone status, cardiovascular disease, and psychological support. Multifactorial conventional therapy focusing on each issue is recommended, as anti-GH antibodies may inactivate specific treatment with exogenous GH. After consideration of potential adverse effects, rhIGF1 treatment, even theoretically indicated, has not been considered in our patient yet.

Learning points

  • Severe isolated GHD may be caused by mutations in GH1 gene, mainly a 6.7 kb deletion.

  • Appearance of neutralizing anti-GH antibodies upon recombinant GH treatment is a characteristic feature of IGHDIA.

  • Recombinant human IGF1 treatment has been tested in children with IGHDIA with variable results in height and secondary adverse effects, but any occurrence in adult patients has not been reported yet.

  • Metabolic disturbances (diabetes and hyperlipidemia) and osteoporosis should be monitored and properly treated to minimize cardiovascular disease and fracture risk.

  • Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging should be repeated in adulthood to detect morphological abnormalities that may have developed with time, as well as pituitary hormones periodically assessed.