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Anna Popławska-Kita Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Marta Wielogórska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Łukasz Poplawski Radiology, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Katarzyna Siewko Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Agnieszka Adamska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Piotr Szumowski Departments of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Piotr Myśliwiec 1st Clinic Department of General and Endocrine Surgery, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Janusz Myśliwiec Departments of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Joanna Reszeć Departments of Medical Pathomorphology, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Grzegorz Kamiński Department of Endocrinology and Radioisotopy Therapy, Military Institute of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland

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Janusz Dzięcioł Departments of Human Anatomy, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Dorota Tobiaszewska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Małgorzata Szelachowska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Adam Jacek Krętowski Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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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.

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Charlotte Delcourt Departments of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Halil Yildiz Internal Medicine, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Alessandra Camboni Pathology, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Eric Van den Neste Hematology, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Véronique Roelants Nuclear Medicine, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Alexandra Kozyreff Ophthalmology, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Jean Paul Thissen Departments of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Dominique Maiter Departments of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Raluca Maria Furnica Departments of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Université catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium

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Summary

A 26-year-old woman presented with persistent headache and tiredness. Biological investigations disclosed a moderate inflammatory syndrome, low PTH-hypercalcemia and complete anterior hypopituitarism. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary gland was performed and revealed a symmetric enlargement with a heterogeneous signal. Ophthalmological examination showed an asymptomatic bilateral anterior and posterior uveitis, and a diagnosis of pituitary sarcoidosis was suspected. As the localization of lymphadenopathies on the fused whole-body FDG-PET/computerized tomography (CT) was not evoking a sarcoidosis in first instance, an excisional biopsy of a left supraclavicular adenopathy was performed showing classic nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL). A diagnostic transsphenoidal biopsy of the pituitary gland was proposed for accurate staging of the HL and surprisingly revealed typical granulomatous inflammation secondary to sarcoidosis, leading to the diagnosis of a sarcoidosis–lymphoma syndrome. The co-existence of these diseases constitutes a diagnostic challenge and we emphasize the necessity of exact staging of disease in order to prescribe adequate treatment.

Learning points:

  • The possibility of a sarcoidosis–lymphoma syndrome, although rare, should be kept in mind during evaluation for lymphadenopathies.

  • In the case of such association, lymphoma usually occurs after sarcoidosis. However, sarcoidosis and lymphoma can be detected simultaneously and development of sarcoidosis in a patient with previous lymphoma has also been reported.

  • An accurate diagnosis of the disease and the respective organ involvements, including biopsy, is necessary in order to prescribe adequate treatment.

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Alexa Clark Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Marosh Manduch Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Russell Hollins Department of Otolaryngology, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Sara Awad Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Summary

We report a case of metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma presenting with a recurrent right-sided cervical lymph node necrotic cyst. A 55-year-old woman presented with a 3-month history of a right-sided upper neck mass following an upper respiratory tract infection. Past medical history includes a right-sided nephrectomy secondary to a benign renal tumor and hypertension. She was evaluated by Otolaryngology, and fine-needle aspiration was performed. The mass recurred 2 months following aspiration. Ultrasound of the neck showed a 2.2 × 1.4 × 1.9 cm right cervical lymph node with a small fatty hilum but a thickened cortex. Neck computed tomography (CT) scan showed a well-defined 2.3 cm mass in the right upper neck corresponding to a necrotic cervical lymph node at level IIA. It also revealed a 7 mm calcified left thyroid nodule. Cytology revealed a moderate collection of murky fluid with mildly atypical cells presumed to be reactive given the clinical history of infection. The cyst had re-grown 2 months following aspiration. Excisional biopsy was performed and revealed metastatic classic papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Subsequently, a total thyroidectomy and right neck dissection was performed. Pathology confirmed metastatic unifocal classic PTC of the right thyroid lobe and two lymph node metastases out of a total of 17 resected lymph nodes. The patient underwent radioactive iodine ablation. Subsequent I-131 radioiodine whole-body scan showed no evidence of metastases. In conclusion, metastatic PTC should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a recurrent solitary cystic cervical lymph node.

Learning points:

  • Metastatic PTC should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a recurrent solitary cystic cervical lymph node.

  • A dedicated thyroid ultrasound is the preferred modality for identifying thyroid lesion over computed tomography.

  • There is a risk of non-diagnostic cytology following FNA for cystic neck lesions, largely predicted by the cyst content of the nodule.

Open access
Vasileios Chortis Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Christine J H May Departments of Endocrinology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Kassiani Skordilis Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Cellular Pathology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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John Ayuk Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Wiebke Arlt Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Rachel K Crowley St. Vincent’s University Hospital and University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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Summary

Context

Adrenal incidentalomas (AI) represent an increasingly common problem in modern endocrine practice. The diagnostic approach to AIs can be challenging and occasionally reveals surprising features. Here we describe two rare cases of complex adrenal lesions consisting of phaeochromocytomas with synchronous metastases from extra-adrenal primaries.

Case descriptions

Patient 1 – a 65-year-old gentleman with a newly diagnosed malignant melanoma was found to harbour an adrenal lesion with suspicious radiographic characteristics. Percutaneous adrenal biopsy was consistent with adrenocortical adenoma. After excision of the skin melanoma and regional lymphatic metastases, he was followed up without imaging. Three years later, he presented with abdominal discomfort and enlargement of his adrenal lesion, associated with high plasma metanephrines. Adrenalectomy revealed a mixed tumour consisting of a large phaeochromocytoma with an embedded melanoma metastasis in its core. Patient 2 – a 63-year-old lady with a history of NF-1-related phaeochromocytoma 20 years ago and previous breast cancer presented with a new adrenal lesion on the contralateral side. Plasma normetanephrine was markedly elevated. Elective adrenalectomy revealed an adrenal tumour consisting of chromaffin cells intermixed with breast carcinoma cells.

Conclusions

Adrenal incidentalomas require careful evaluation to exclude metastatic disease, especially in the context of a history of previous malignancy. Adrenal biopsy provides limited and potentially misleading information. Phaeochromocytomas are highly vascularised tumours that may function as a sieve, extracting and retaining irregularly shaped cancer cells, thereby yielding adrenal masses with intriguing dual pathology.

Learning points:

  • Adrenal incidentalomas require careful evaluation focused on exclusion of underlying hormone excess and malignant pathology.

  • Adrenal biopsy can be misleading and should only be considered in select cases.

  • Phaeochromocytomas harbouring intratumoural metastases from other, extra-adrenal primary malignancies represent rare pathological entities that highlight the complexities that can be presented by adrenal tumours.

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Lima Lawrence Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Peng Zhang Departments of Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Humberto Choi Departments of Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Usman Ahmad Departments of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Valeria Arrossi Departments of Anatomic Pathology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Andrei Purysko Departments of Diagnostic Radiology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Vinni Makin Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production leading to ectopic ACTH syndrome accounts for a small proportion of all Cushing’s syndrome (CS) cases. Thymic neuroendocrine tumors are rare neoplasms that may secrete ACTH leading to rapid development of hypercortisolism causing electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and an increased risk for opportunistic infections. We present a unique case of a patient who presented with a mediastinal mass, revealed to be an ACTH-secreting thymic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) causing ectopic CS. As the diagnosis of CS from ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) remains challenging, we emphasize the necessity for high clinical suspicion in the appropriate setting, concordance between biochemical, imaging and pathology findings, along with continued vigilant monitoring for recurrence after definitive treatment.

Learning points:

  • Functional thymic neuroendocrine tumors are exceedingly rare.

  • Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome secondary to thymic neuroendocrine tumors secreting ACTH present with features of hypercortisolism including electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and hyperglycemia, and opportunistic infections.

  • The ability to undergo surgery and completeness of resection are the strongest prognostic factors for improved overall survival; however, the recurrence rate remains high.

  • A high degree of initial clinical suspicion followed by vigilant monitoring is required for patients with this challenging disease.

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Su Ann Tee Department of Endocrinology, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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Earn Hui Gan Department of Endocrinology, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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Mohamad Zaher Kanaan Departments of Ophthalmology, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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David Ashley Price Departments of Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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Tim Hoare Radiology, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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Simon H S Pearce Department of Endocrinology, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

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Summary

Primary adrenal insufficiency secondary to syphilis is extremely rare, with only five cases being reported in the literature. We report a case of adrenal insufficiency as a manifestation of Treponema pallidum infection (tertiary syphilis). A 69-year-old, previously fit and well Caucasian male was found to have adrenal insufficiency after being admitted with weight loss, anorexia and postural dizziness resulting in a fall. Biochemical testing showed hyponatraemia, hyperkalaemia, and an inadequate response to Synacthen testing, with a peak cortisol level of 302 nmol/L after administration of 250 µg Synacthen. Abdominal imaging revealed bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with inguinal and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy. He was started on hydrocortisone replacement; however, it was not until he re-attended ophthalmology with a red eye and visual loss 1 month later, that further work-up revealed the diagnosis of tertiary syphilis. Following a course of penicillin, repeat imaging 5 months later showed resolution of the abnormal radiological appearances. However, adrenal function has not recovered and 3 years following initial presentation, the patient remains on both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement. In conclusion, this case highlights the importance of considering syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis in patients presenting with adrenal insufficiency and bilateral adrenal masses, given the recent re-emergence of this condition. The relative ease of treating infectious causes of adrenal lesions makes accurate and timely diagnosis crucial.

Learning points:

  • Infectious causes, including syphilis, should be excluded before considering adrenalectomy or biopsy for any patient presenting with an adrenal mass.

  • It is important to perform a full infection screen including tests for human immunodeficiency virus, other blood-borne viruses and concurrent sexually transmitted diseases in patients presenting with bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with primary adrenal insufficiency.

  • Awareness of syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis is important, as it not only has a wide range of clinical presentations, but its prevalence has been increasing in recent times.

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Rayna Patel Department of Stroke Medicine, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK

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Waheed Mustafa Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Basildon University Hospital, Nethermayne, Basildon, Essex, UK

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Michael T Sheaff Department of Pathology, St Bartholemew’s Hospital, London, UK

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Sami Khan Department of Radiology, Basildon University Hospital, Nethermayne, Basildon, Essex, UK

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Summary

IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a rare but increasingly recognised condition, emerging as a clinical entity following the observation of the associations of autoimmune pancreatitis. IgG4-RD is characterised by extensive infiltration of IgG4-positive plasma cells into multiple organs and raised serum IgG4 levels. Clinical manifestations of IgG4 disease classically include autoimmune pancreatitis, lacrimal or salivary gland infiltration (formerly known as Mikulicz disease) and retroperitoneal fibrosis. More rarely, IgG4 disease can cause pituitary hypophysitis. Although most frequently described in middle-aged males, the epidemiology and pathogenesis of the disease remain largely undefined. Nevertheless, an understanding of the wide variety of clinical manifestations of this multi-system condition is undeniably important given the often excellent outcomes following treatment. We describe an unusual presentation of IgG4 disease with isolated diabetes insipidus secondary to pituitary hypophysitis. The patient in question subsequently developed chest pain secondary to mediastinal lymphadenopathy and tubulo-interstitial nephritis leading to renal dysfunction. He was successfully treated with oral steroids and had regular follow-up, and remains well at follow-up 2 years later.

Learning points

  • IgG4 disease, although rare, is increasing in prevalence largely due to increased recognition of its clinical manifestations, including autoimmune pancreatitis, lacrimal or salivary gland infiltration, retroperitoneal fibrosis and, more rarely, lymphocytic hypophysitis presenting as diabetes insipidus.

  • IgG4 disease is highly treatable, and symptoms may show complete resolution with administration of steroids, highlighting the importance of correct and timely diagnosis.

  • Causes of lymphocytic hypophysitis are varied and not distinguishable radiologically. Given the difficulty in biopsying the pituitary, careful attention must be paid to the systemic clinical presentation to provide clues as to the underlying disorder.

Open access
Hiroto Minamino The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan
Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Wakayama Red Cross Hospital, Wakayama, Japan

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Hidefumi Inaba The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan

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Hiroyuki Ariyasu The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan

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Hiroto Furuta The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan

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Masahiro Nishi The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan

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Takashi Yoshimasu Department of Dermatology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Akinori Nishikawa Department of Hematology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Masanori Nakanishi Department of Respiratory Medicine & Medical Oncology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Shigeki Tsuchihashi Department of Otolaryngology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Fumiyoshi Kojima Department of Human Pathology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Shin-ichi Murata Department of Human Pathology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan

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Gen Inoue Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Wakayama Red Cross Hospital, Wakayama, Japan

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Takashi Akamizu The First Department of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1, Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-8509, Japan

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Summary

A 73-year-old man with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) suffered from purpura on the lower legs. He was diagnosed with IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) with serum IgG4 elevation and dacryo-sialadenitis confirmed histologically. Serum Th2 and Treg cytokines, interleukin 7 (IL7), IL8 and Th2 chemokine levels were elevated, while skewed Th1 balance was seen in fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Therefore, preferential Th1 balance in HT appeared to be followed by IgG4-RD characterized with Th2 and Treg polarization. The commencement of steroid therapy dramatically exacerbated clinical manifestations including IgG4-RD-associated HT. The measurement of cytokine and chemokine levels as well as FACS analysis in the development of IgG4-RD seemed to be beneficial. In conclusion, an innovative association of HT, IgG4-RD and vasculitis was observed. This report also offers novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for IgG4-RD.

Learning points

  • Recently, a subtype of HT has been considered to be a thyroid manifestation of IgG4-RD, although the etiology of IgG4-RD is not established yet.

  • Immunologically a close association between HT and vasculitis was reported.

  • Leukocytoclastic vasculitis is a rare skin presentation of IgG4-RD.

  • In the current case, during the course of HT, IgG4-RD and leukocytoclastic vasculitis occurred; thus, innate immunity and acquired immunity seem to be involved in the development of IgG4-RD.

  • The measurement of cytokine and chemokines appeared to be beneficial in the development of IgG4-RD.

  • Remarkably, effectiveness of steroid therapy for HT suggested presence of IgG4-RD-associated HT. Therefore, this report highlights the pathogenesis of IgG4-RD and proposes novel therapeutic mechanisms. Clinicians should pay attention to the development of IgG4-RD and vasculitis during long course of HT.

Open access
Lauren J Baker Endocrinology Department, Concord Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Anthony J Gill Pathology Department, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Charles Chan Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Anatomical Pathology Department, Concord Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Betty P C Lin Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Anatomical Pathology Department, Concord Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Bronwyn A Crawford Endocrinology Department, Concord Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Summary

In 2006, a 58-year-old woman presented with thyrotoxicosis. She had undergone left hemithyroidectomy 14 years before for a benign follicular adenoma. Ultrasound imaging demonstrated bilateral cervical lymphadenopathy with enhanced tracer uptake in the left lateral neck on a Technetium-99m uptake scan. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of a left lateral neck node was insufficient for a cytological diagnosis; however, thyroglobulin (Tg) washings were strongly positive. The clinical suspicion was of functionally active metastatic thyroid cancer in cervical lymph nodes. A completion thyroidectomy and bilateral cervical lymph node dissection were performed. Histology demonstrated benign multinodularity in the right hemithyroid, with bilateral reactive lymphadenopathy and 24 benign hyperplastic thyroid nodules in the left lateral neck that were classified as parasitic thyroid nodules. As there had been a clinical suspicion of thyroid cancer, and the hyperplastic/parasitic thyroid tissue in the neck was extensive, the patient was given ablative radioactive iodine (3.7 GBq). After 2 years, a diagnostic radioactive iodine scan was clear and the serum Tg was undetectable. The patient has now been followed for 7 years with no evidence of recurrence. Archived tissue from a left lateral neck thyroid nodule has recently been analysed for BRAF V600E mutation, which was negative.

Learning points

  • Thyrotoxicosis due to functional thyroid tissue in the lateral neck is very rare and may be due to metastatic thyroid cancer or benign parasitic thyroid tissue.

  • Parasitic thyroid nodules should be considered as a differential diagnosis of lateral neck thyroid deposits, particularly where there is a history of prior thyroid surgery.

  • Parasitic thyroid nodules may occur as a result of traumatic rupture or implantation from a follicular adenoma at the time of surgery.

  • The use of ablative radioactive iodine may be appropriate, as resection of all parasitic thyroid tissue can prove difficult.

  • BRAF mutational analysis of parasitic thyroid tissue may provide extra reassurance in the exclusion of papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Open access