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Open access

Nicolás Cruz-Dardíz, Nadyeschka Rivera-Santana, Marina Torres-Torres, Héctor Cintrón-Colón, Shayanne Lajud, Ernesto Solá-Sánchez, Michelle Mangual-García and Alex González-Bóssolo

Summary

Lingual thyroid (LT) gland is the most common type of ectopic thyroid tissue, but it is an extremely rare presentation. We present a case of a 41-year-old Hispanic female patient complaining of dysphonia and dysphagia. As part of the evaluation, fiber optic flexible indirect laryngoscopy (FIL) was performed which revealed a mass at the base of the tongue. The morphological examination was highly suspicious for ectopic thyroid tissue and the diagnosis was confirmed with neck ultrasound and thyroid scintigraphy. Although the patient presented subclinical hypothyroidism, levothyroxine therapy was initiated with a favorable response which included resolution of symptoms and mass size reduction. Our case portrays how thyroid hormone replacement therapy (THRT) may lead to a reduction in the size of the ectopic tissue and improvement of symptoms, thus avoiding the need for surgical intervention which could result in profound hypothyroidism severely affecting the patients’ quality of life.

Learning points:

  • Benign LT and malignant LT are indistinguishable clinically and radiographically for which histopathology is recommended.
  • THRT, radioactive iodine 131 (RAI) therapy, and surgical excision are potential management options for LT.
  • THRT may lead to size reduction of the ectopic tissue and resolution of symptoms avoiding surgical intervention.
Open access

James Prentice, Kate Panter, Ayoma Attygalle, Thomas Ind and Malcolm Prentice

Summary

A 33-year-old female presented with a right 11.6 cm ovarian cyst. Routine pre-operative thyroid function tests showed thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) of less than 0.02 mU/L (0.3–3.05) and a free thyroxine (FT4) of 5.5 pmol/L (10–28.2) suggesting either assay interference, triiodothyronine (T3) ingestion or hypopituitary hypothyroidism. A free triiodothyronine (FT3) level was requested which was high normal 6.9 pmol/L (3.1–8.1). Parallel assays on a different platform were similar but with a raised FT3 of 7.2 pmol/L (3.1–6.8). TSH receptor stimulating antibody (TSHAb) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO) were negative. Antithyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) was positive at 155.6 IU/mL (0–115). She was clinically euthyroid. Thyroid ultrasound showed a normal sized mildly heterogeneous gland with low blood flow and a solitary 1.5 cm U3 (BTA) nodule with higher blood flow. Thyroid Tc99m uptake was very low 0.2% (0.6–3.0) with no nodule uptake. These results demonstrated an extrathyroidal source of excessive autonomous T3 production resulting in the low thyroxine (T4). With carbimazole her TSH rose to 11.9 mU/L, FT4 rose to 7.7 pmol/L and FT3 reduced to 3.6 pmol/L. Histological diagnosis was Struma Ovarii. Her TSH, FT4 and FT3 remained normal thereafter. In conclusion, an extrathyroidal source of high T3 secretion was diagnosed using routine thyroid tests and scans. We believe this is the first description of a Struma Ovarii exclusively secreting T3 hormone characterised by the paradoxical rise of a low FT4 to normal with treatment. Two years later she developed non-secreting peritoneal deposits of highly differentiated follicular carcinoma.

Learning points:

  • Abnormally low TSH and FT4 levels suggestive of possible T3 ingestion, or less likely, hypopituitary hypothyroidism should always be followed by an assay of FT3.
  • The diagnosis of an extrathyroidal source of T3 can be made using conventional thyroid tests, thyroid ultrasound scanning and technetium thyroid uptake and scan imaging. In a pre-menopausal patient this avoids a radiation dose to the pelvis.
  • Pelvic radioisotope scanning of a suspected Struma Ovarii causing thyrotoxicosis can be reserved for patients whose thyroid function remains abnormal after initial surgery.
  • Carbimazole is effective in the treatment of extrathyroidal autonomous T3 hormone production from a Struma Ovarii.
  • The pathological appearance of a Struma Ovarii is not a guide to its malignancy. Even with a benign appearance they can disseminate to peritoneum, as highly differentiated follicular carcinoma (previously known as peritoneal strumosis).
  • Hyperthyroid secretion by a Struma Ovarii may not be replicated in the metastatic follicular carcinoma in the peritoneum.
Open access

Anna Popławska-Kita, Marta Wielogórska, Łukasz Poplawski, Katarzyna Siewko, Agnieszka Adamska, Piotr Szumowski, Piotr Myśliwiec, Janusz Myśliwiec, Joanna Reszeć, Grzegorz Kamiński, Janusz Dzięcioł, Dorota Tobiaszewska, Małgorzata Szelachowska and Adam Jacek Krętowski

Summary

Papillary thyroid gland carcinoma is the most common type of malignancy of the endocrine system. Metastases to the pituitary gland have been described as a complication of papillary thyroid cancer in few reported cases since 1965. We report the case of a 68-year-old female patient with a well-differentiated form of thyroid gland cancer. Despite it being the most common malignant cancer of the endocrine system, with its papillary form being one of the two most frequently diagnosed thyroid cancers, the case we present is extremely rare. Sudden cardiac arrest during ventricular fibrillation occurred during hospitalization. Autopsy of the patient revealed papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, follicular variant, with metastasis to the sella turcica, and concomitant sarcoidosis of heart, lung, and mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes. Not only does atypical metastasis make our patient’s case most remarkable, but also the postmortem diagnosis of sarcoidosis makes her case particularly unusual.

Learning points:

  • The goal of presenting this case is to raise awareness of the clinical heterogeneity of papillary cancer and promote early diagnosis of unexpected metastasis and coexisting diseases to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Clinicians must be skeptical. They should not fall into the trap of diagnostic momentum or accept diagnostic labels at face value. Regardless of the potential mechanisms, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of the coexistence of thyroid cancer and sarcoidosis as a differential diagnosis of lymphadenopathy.
  • This case highlights the importance of the diagnostic and therapeutic planning process and raises awareness of the fact that one uncommon disease could be masked by another extremely rare disorder.
Open access

Serena Khoo, Greta Lyons, Andrew Solomon, Susan Oddy, David Halsall, Krishna Chatterjee and Carla Moran

Summary

Familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxinemia (FDH) is a cause of discordant thyroid function tests (TFTs), due to interference in free T4 assays, caused by the mutant albumin. The coexistence of thyroid disease and FDH can further complicate diagnosis and potentially result in inappropriate management. We describe a case of both Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease occurring on a background of FDH. A 42-year-old lady with longstanding autoimmune hypothyroidism was treated with thyroxine but in varying dosage, because TFTs, showing high Free T4 (FT4) and normal TSH levels, were discordant. Discontinuation of thyroxine led to marked TSH rise but with normal FT4 levels. She then developed Graves’ disease and thyroid ophthalmopathy, with markedly elevated FT4 (62.7 pmol/L), suppressed TSH (<0.03 mU/L) and positive anti-TSH receptor antibody levels. However, propylthiouracil treatment even in low dosage (100 mg daily) resulted in profound hypothyroidism (TSH: 138 mU/L; FT4: 4.8 pmol/L), prompting its discontinuation and recommencement of thyroxine. The presence of discordant thyroid hormone measurements from two different methods suggested analytical interference. Elevated circulating total T4 (TT4), (227 nmol/L; NR: 69–141) but normal thyroxine binding globulin (TBG) (19.2 µg/mL; NR: 14.0–31.0) levels, together with increased binding of patient’s serum to radiolabelled T4, suggested FDH, and ALB sequencing confirmed a causal albumin variant (R218H). This case highlights difficulty ascertaining true thyroid status in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease and coexisting FDH. Early recognition of FDH as a cause for discordant TFTs may improve patient management.

Learning points:

  • The typical biochemical features of familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxinemia (FDH) are (genuinely) raised total and (spuriously) raised free T4 concentrations due to enhanced binding of the mutant albumin to thyroid hormones, with normal TBG and TSH concentrations.
  • Given the high prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease, it is not surprising that assay interference from coexisting FDH may lead to discordant thyroid function tests confounding diagnosis and resulting in inappropriate therapy.
  • Discrepant thyroid hormone measurements using two different immunoassay methods should alert to the possibility of laboratory analytical interference. The diagnosis of FDH is suspected if there is a similar abnormal familial pattern of TFTs and increased binding of radiolabelled 125I-T4 to the patient’s serum, and can be confirmed by ALB gene sequencing.
  • When autoimmune thyroid disease coexists with FDH, TSH levels are the most reliable biochemical marker of thyroid status. Measurement of FT4 using equilibrium dialysis or ultrafiltration are more reliable but less readily available.
Open access

M L Gild, L Heath, J Y Paik, R J Clifton-Bligh and B G Robinson

Summary

Struma ovarii is a rare, usually benign ovarian tumour with malignancy occurring in <5% of cases. Metastases, particularly seeding to bone, are extremely rare. Presentation is variable but often features local pain and/or ascites and hyperthyroidism may occur. It is not established how to best treat and follow patients with extensive disease. Case reports of radioiodine (I131) ablative therapy following thyroidectomy have shown reduced recurrence. We describe the case of a 33-year-old woman who presented with bone pain and was diagnosed with skeletal metastases with features of follicular thyroid carcinoma. However, thyroid pathology was benign. She recalled that 5 years prior, an ovarian teratoma was excised, classified at that time as a dermoid cyst. Retrospective review of this pathology confirmed struma ovarii without obvious malignant features. The patient was found to have widespread metastases to bone and viscera and her thyroglobulin was >3000 µg/L following recombinant TSH administration prior to her first dose of I131. At 25 months following radioiodine treatment, she is in remission with an undetectable thyroglobulin and clear I131 surveillance scans. This case demonstrates an unusual presentation of malignant struma ovarii together with challenges of predicting metastatic disease, and demonstrates a successful radioiodine regimen inducing remission.

Learning points:

  • Malignant transformation of struma ovarii (MSO) is extremely rare and even rarer are metastatic deposits in bone and viscera.
  • MSO can be difficult to predict by initial ovarian pathology, analogous to the difficulty in some cases of differentiating between follicular thyroid adenoma and carcinoma.
  • No consensus exists on the management for post operative treatment of MSO; however, in this case, three doses of 6Gbq radioiodine therapy over a short time period eliminated metastases to viscera and bone.
  • Patients should continue to have TSH suppression for ~5 years.
  • Monitoring thyroglobulin levels can predict recurrence.
Open access

J K Witczak, N Ubaysekara, R Ravindran, S Rice, Z Yousef and L D Premawardhana

Summary

Graves’ disease is associated with tachydysrythmia, cardiac ischaemia and cardiomyopathy – all uncommon in young adults without previous cardiac disease. We present three young individuals who developed cardiac complications after periods of uncontrolled Graves’ disease. Subject 1: A 34-year-old female had severe thyrotoxic symptoms for weeks. Investigations showed fT4: 98.4 (11–25 pmol/L), fT3: 46.9 (3.1–6.8 pmol/L), TSH <0.01 (0.27–4.2 mU/L) and thyrotrophin receptor antibody (TRAb): 34.8 (<0.9 U//l). She had appropriate treatment but several weeks later she became breathless despite improving thyroid function. Echocardiography showed a pericardial effusion of 2.9 cm. She responded well to steroids and NSAIDs but developed active severe Graves’ orbitopathy after early total thyroidectomy. Subject 2: A 28-year-old male developed thyrotoxic symptoms (fT4: 38 pmol/L, fT3: 13.9 pmol/L, TSH <0.01 (for over 6 months) and TRAb: 9.3 U/L). One month after starting carbimazole, he developed acute heart failure (HF) due to severe dilated cardiomyopathy – EF 10–15%. He partially recovered after treatment – EF 28% and had early radioiodine treatment. Subject 3: A 42-year-old woman who had been thyrotoxic for several months (fT4: 54.3; fT3 >46.1; TSH <0.01; TRAb: 4.5) developed atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure. Echocardiography showed cardiomegaly – EF 29%. She maintains sinus rhythm following early total thyroidectomy (EF 50%). Significant cardiac complications may occur in previously fit young adults, who have had uncontrolled Graves’ disease for weeks to months. Cardiac function recovers in the majority, but early definitive treatment should be discussed to avoid Graves’ disease relapse and further cardiac decompensation.

Learning points:

  • Cardiac complications of Graves’ disease are uncommon in young adults without previous cardiac disease.
  • These complications may however occur if Graves’ disease had been poorly controlled for several weeks or months prior to presentation.
  • Persistent symptoms after adequate control should alert clinicians to the possibility of cardiac disease.
  • Specific treatment of Graves’ disease and appropriate cardiac intervention results in complete recovery in the majority and carries a good prognosis.
  • Early definitive treatment should be offered to them to prevent cardiac decompensation at times of further relapse.
Open access

Maria Tomkins, Roxana Maria Tudor, Diarmuid Smith and Amar Agha

Summary

This case is the first to describe a patient who experienced concomitant agranulocytosis and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis as an adverse effect of propylthiouracil treatment for Graves’ disease. A 42-year-old female with Graves’ disease presented to the emergency department (ED) with a 2-week history of fevers, night sweats, transient lower limb rash, arthralgia, myalgia and fatigue. She had been taking propylthiouracil for 18 months prior to presentation. On admission, agranulocytosis was evident with a neutrophil count of 0.36 × 109/L and immediately propylthiouracil was stopped. There was no evidence of active infection and the patient was treated with broad-spectrum antibodies and one dose of granulocyte colony-stimulation factor, resulting in a satisfactory response. On further investigation, ANCAs were positive with dual positivity for proteinase 3 and myeloperoxidase. There was no evidence of end-organ damage secondary to vasculitis, and the patient’s constitutional symptoms resolved completely on discontinuation of the drug precluding the need for immunosuppressive therapy.

Learning points:

  • Continued vigilance and patient education regarding the risk of antithyroid drug-induced agranulocytosis is vital throughout the course of treatment.
  • ANCA-associated vasculitis is a rare adverse effect of antithyroid drug use.
  • Timely discontinuation of the offending drug is vital in reducing end-organ damage and the need for immunosuppressive therapy in drug-induced ANCA-associated vasculitis.
  • Similarities in the pathogenesis of agranulocytosis and drug-induced ANCA-associated vasculitis may offer insight into an improved understanding of vasculitis and agranulocytosis.
Open access

Lorena Arnez and Victor Lawrence

Summary

A 40-year-old woman was hospitalised at 25-week gestation following a diagnosis of severe symptomatic hypercalcaemia (adjusted serum calcium 3.02 mmol/L). A diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP) was made on the basis of elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) 11.2 pmol/L (reference range 1.5–6.9) and exclusion of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia. Ultrasound examination of the neck did not convincingly demonstrate an abnormal or enlarged parathyroid gland and parathyroid scintigraphy was not performed due to maternal choice relating to perceived radiation risk to the foetus. At neck exploration during the 28th week of pregnancy a right lower pole parathyroid lesion was excised together with two abnormal lymph nodes (largest 1.6 cm). Histology confirmed a parathyroid adenoma and also papillary thyroid carcinoma deposits in the two resected lymph nodes. Post-operatively, levels of adjusted serum calcium normalised and pregnancy progressed uneventfully to term. Total thyroidectomy was performed 2 weeks after delivery revealing two small foci of papillary micro-carcinoma (largest 2.3 mm, one in each thyroid lobe) with no evidence of further metastatic tumour in lymph nodes removed during functional neck dissection. Radioiodine remnant ablation (RRA) was performed 2 months post thyroidectomy to allow for breast involution. The patient remains in full clinical and biochemical remission 9 years later. We present and review the difficult management decisions faced in relation to the investigation and treatment of PHP in pregnancy, further complicated by incidentally discovered locally metastatic pT1aN1aM0 papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Learning points:

  • PHP may have serious consequences during pregnancy and usually requires surgical management during pregnancy to reduce the risk of maternal and foetal complications. The indications for and optimal timing of surgical management are discussed.
  • Localisation by parathyroid scintigraphy is controversial during pregnancy: modified dose regimes may be considered in preference as an alternative to unguided neck exploration.
  • Breastfeeding is contraindicated for 6–8 weeks before radioactive-iodine remnant ablation (RRA) to prevent increased breast uptake. Breastfeeding is further contra-indicated until after a subsequent pregnancy.
  • Incidentally discovered differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) in cervical lymph nodes in some cases may be managed expectantly because in one quarter of thyroidectomies the primary tumour remains occult.
Open access

Shivani Patel, Venessa Chin and Jerry R Greenfield

Summary

Durvalumab is a programmed cell death ligand 1 inhibitor, which is now approved in Australia for use in non-small-cell lung and urothelial cancers. Autoimmune diabetes is a rare immune-related adverse effect associated with the use of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. It is now being increasingly described reflecting the wider use of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. We report the case of a 49-year-old female who presented with polyuria, polydipsia and weight loss, 3 months following the commencement of durvalumab. On admission, she was in severe diabetic ketoacidosis with venous glucose: 20.1 mmol/L, pH: 7.14, bicarbonate 11.2 mmol/L and serum beta hydroxybutyrate: >8.0 mmol/L. She had no personal or family history of diabetes or autoimmune disease. Her HbA1c was 7.8% and her glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies were mildly elevated at 2.2 mU/L (reference range: <2 mU/L) with negative zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) and islet cell (ICA) antibodies. Her fasting C-peptide was low at 86 pmol/L (reference range: 200–1200) with a corresponding serum glucose of 21.9 mmol/L. She was promptly stabilised with an insulin infusion in intensive care and discharged on basal bolus insulin. Durvalumab was recommenced once her glycaemic control had stabilised. Thyroid function tests at the time of admission were within normal limits with negative thyroid autoantibodies. Four weeks post discharge, repeat thyroid function tests revealed hypothyroidism, with an elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) at 6.39 mIU/L (reference range: 0.40–4.80) and low free T4: 5.9 pmol/L (reference range: 8.0–16.0). These findings persisted with repeat testing despite an absence of clinical symptoms. Treatment with levothyroxine was commenced after excluding adrenal insufficiency (early morning cortisol: 339 nmol/L) and hypophysitis (normal pituitary on MRI).

Learning points:

  • Durvalumab use is rarely associated with fulminant autoimmune diabetes, presenting with severe DKA.
  • Multiple endocrinopathies can co-exist with the use of a single immune checkpoint inhibitors; thus, patients should be regularly monitored.
  • Regular blood glucose levels should be performed on routine pathology on all patients on immune checkpoint inhibitor.
  • Clinician awareness of immunotherapy-related diabetes needs to increase in an attempt to detect hyperglycaemia early and prevent DKA.
Open access

C Greco, G Brigante, E Taliani, S Corrado, M Simoni and B Madeo

Summary

A 74-year-old man was referred to the Endocrinology Unit because of multinodular goiter. The dominant nodule (1.7 × 1.9 × 2.4 cm), at the medium-superior third of the left lobe, was inhomogeneously hypoechoic, with irregular margins, macrocalcifications and intranodular vascularization. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) was performed. The cytological diagnosis was TIR 2, benign, according to the 2013 Italian thyroid cytology classification system. Moderately high serum calcitonin (s-Ct) (61.5 pg/mL, n.r. 0–7.5) and normal CEA were detected. The Ct level in FNAB wash-out fluid (Ct-FNAB) was 1450 pg/mL. Based on s-Ct and Ct-FNAB levels, patient underwent total thyroidectomy. Macroscopically, a dominant circumscribed nodule of 2 ecm was described; the histological and immunohistochemical features identified medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) with paraganglioma (PG)-like pattern positive for Ct, CEA and chromogranin and negative for S-100 sustentacular cells (SC). Moreover, papillary carcinoma of 3 mm in the right lobe was also associated. No areas of hyperaccumulation of the tracer were documented at Ga68 PET/CT. No RET-proto-oncogene mutations were found. Post-surgery s-Ct levels were within normal range (4 pg/mL). Two years after thyroidectomy, the patient is still disease-free. We reported a case of sporadic and rare variant of MTC: this is the ninth described case of PG-like MTC. In this case, cytologically benign, the clinical suspicion arose from high Ct values at FNAB wash-out fluid. Even if clinical behavior of this variant seems indolent, additional studies are necessary to understand prognoses and predictive factors.

Learning points:

  • Several unusual histological variants of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) have been described such as spindle cell, giant cell, clear cell, melanotic, squamous, angiosarcoma-like variants; even rarer is the paraganglioma (PG)-like pattern.
  • We here describe a case of medullary PG-like thyroid carcinoma in a 74-year-old man. This is a rare histological variant of MTC hardly diagnosed by cytology, since immunohistochemical investigations are necessary.
  • Measurement of calcitonin both in serum and in wash-out fluid from fine-needle aspiration could be an additional tool for an early and non-invasive identification of these variants.