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Shamaila Zaman Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Bijal Patel Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Paul Glynne The Physicians’ Clinic, London, UK

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Mark Vanderpump The Physicians’ Clinic, London, UK

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Ali Alsafi Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Sairah Khan Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Rashpal Flora Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Fausto Palazzo Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Florian Wernig Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

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Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production is an uncommon cause of Cushing’s syndrome and, rarely, the source can be a phaeochromocytoma. A 55-year-old man presented following an episode of presumed gastroenteritis with vomiting and general malaise. Further episodes of diarrhoea, joint pains and palpitations followed. On examination, he was hypertensive with no clinical features to suggest hypercortisolaemia. He was subsequently found to have raised plasma normetanephrines of 3.98 nmol/L (NR <0.71) and metanephrines of 0.69 nmol/L (NR <0.36). An adrenal CT showed a 3.8 cm right adrenal nodule, which was not MIBG-avid but was clinically and biochemically consistent with a phaeochromocytoma. He was started on alpha blockade and referred for right adrenalectomy. Four weeks later, on the day of admission for adrenalectomy, profound hypokalaemia was noted (serum potassium 2.0 mmol/L) with non-specific ST-segment ECG changes. He was also diagnosed with new-onset diabetes mellitus (capillary blood glucose of 28 mmol/L). He reported to have gained weight and his skin had become darker over the course of the last 4 weeks. Given these findings, he underwent overnight dexamethasone suppression testing, which showed a non-suppressed serum cortisol of 1099 nmol/L. Baseline serum ACTH was 273 ng/L. A preliminary diagnosis of ectopic ACTH secretion from the known right-sided phaeochromocytoma was made and he was started on metyrapone and insulin. Surgery was postponed for 4 weeks. Following uncomplicated laparoscopic adrenalectomy, the patient recovered with full resolution of symptoms.

Learning points:

  • Phaeochromocytomas are a rare source of ectopic ACTH secretion. A high clinical index of suspicion is therefore required to make the diagnosis.

  • Ectopic ACTH secretion from a phaeochromocytoma can rapidly progress to severe Cushing’s syndrome, thus complicating tumour removal.

  • Removal of the primary tumour often leads to full recovery.

  • The limited literature suggests that the presence of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome does not appear to have any long-term prognostic implications.

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Yasufumi Seki Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Satoshi Morimoto Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Naohiro Yoshida Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Kanako Bokuda Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Nobukazu Sasaki Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Midori Yatabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Junichi Yatabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Daisuke Watanabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Satoru Morita Departments of Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

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Keisuke Hata Departments of Urology, Kidney Center, Tokyo, Japan

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Tomoko Yamamoto Departments of Surgical Pathology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan

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Yoji Nagashima Departments of Surgical Pathology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan

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Atsuhiro Ichihara Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Summary

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is more common than expected. Aberrant adrenal expression of luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor in patients with PA has been reported; however, its physiological role on the development of PA is still unknown. Herein, we report two unique cases of PA in patients with untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome, characterized as increased serum LH, suggesting a possible contribution of the syndrome to PA development. Case 1 was a 39-year-old man with obesity and hypertension since his 20s. His plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) and renin activity (PRA) were 220 pg/mL and 0.4 ng/mL/h, respectively. He was diagnosed as having bilateral PA by confirmatory tests and adrenal venous sampling (AVS). Klinefelter’s syndrome was suspected as he showed gynecomastia and small testes, and it was confirmed on the basis of a low serum total testosterone level (57.3 ng/dL), high serum LH level (50.9 mIU/mL), and chromosome analysis. Case 2 was a 28-year-old man who had untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome diagnosed in his childhood and a 2-year history of hypertension and hypokalemia. PAC and PRA were 247 pg/mL and 0.3 ng/mL/h, respectively. He was diagnosed as having a 10 mm-sized aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) by AVS. In the APA, immunohistochemical analysis showed co-expression of LH receptor and CYP11B2. Our cases of untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome complicated with PA suggest that increased serum LH levels and adipose tissues, caused by primary hypogonadism, could contribute to PA development. The possible complication of PA in hypertensive patients with Klinefelter’s syndrome should be carefully considered.

Learning points:

  • The pathogenesis of primary aldosteronism is still unclear.

  • Expression of luteinizing hormone receptor has been reported in aldosterone-producing adenoma.

  • Serum luteinizing hormone, which is increased in patients with Klinefelter’s syndrome, might contribute to the development of primary aldosteronism.

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Alessandro Rossini Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy

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Francesca Perticone Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Laura Frosio Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Marco Schiavo Lena Department of Pathology, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy

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Roberto Lanzi Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Summary

ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma is a very rare cause of Cushing’s syndrome, with a high morbidity and mortality risk due to both cortisol and catecholamines excess. We report the case of a 45-year-old female patient with a 3 cm, high-density, left adrenal mass, diagnosed as an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma. The biochemical sensitivity of the tumor to somatostatin analogues was tested by a 100 μg s.c. octreotide administration, which led to an ACTH and cortisol reduction of 50 and 25% respectively. In addition to alpha and beta blockers, preoperative approach to laparoscopic adrenalectomy included octreotide, a somatostatin analogue, together with ketoconazole, in order to achieve an adequate pre-surgical control of cortisol release. Histopathological assessment confirmed an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma expressing type 2 and 5 somatostatin receptors (SSTR-2 and -5).

Learning points:

  • ACTH-secreting pheochromocytomas represent a rare and severe condition, characterized by high morbidity and mortality risk.

  • Surgical removal of the adrenal mass is the gold standard treatment, but adequate medical therapy is required preoperatively to improve the surgical outcome and to avoid major complications.

  • Somatostatin analogs, in addition to other medications, may represent a useful therapeutic option for the presurgical management of selected patients.

  • In this sense, the octreotide challenge test is a useful tool to predict favorable therapeutic response to the treatment.

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Joanna Prokop Departments of Endocrinology, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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João Estorninho Departments of Endocrinology, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Sara Marote Departments of Internal Medicine, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Teresa Sabino Departments of Endocrinology, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Aida Botelho de Sousa Departments of Hemato-Oncology, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Eduardo Silva Departments of Internal Medicine, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Ana Agapito Departments of Endocrinology, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Summary

POEMS syndrome (Polyneuropathy, Organomegaly, Endocrinopathy, Monoclonal protein and Skin changes) is a rare multisystemic disease. Clinical presentation is variable, the only mandatory criteria being polyneuropathy and monoclonal gammapathy in association with one major and one minor criterion. Primary adrenal insufficiency is rarely reported. We describe a case of a 33-year-old patient, in whom the presenting symptoms were mandibular mass, chronic sensory-motor peripheral polyneuropathy and adrenal insufficiency. The laboratory evaluation revealed thrombocytosis, severe hyperkalemia with normal renal function, normal protein electrophoresis and negative serum immunofixation for monoclonal protein. Endocrinologic laboratory work-up confirmed Addison’s disease and revealed subclinical primary hypothyroidism. Thoracic abdominal CT showed hepatosplenomegaly, multiple sclerotic lesions in thoracic vertebra and ribs. The histopathologic examination of the mandibular mass was nondiagnostic. Bone marrow biopsy revealed plasma cell dyscrasia and confirmed POEMS syndrome. Axillary lymphadenopathy biopsy: Castleman’s disease. Gluco-mineralocorticoid substitution and levothyroxine therapy were started with clinical improvement. Autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) was planned, cyclophosphamide induction was started. Meanwhile the patient suffered two ischemic strokes which resulted in aphasia and hemiparesis. Cerebral angiography revealed vascular lesions compatible with vasculitis and stenosis of two cerebral arteries. The patient deceased 14 months after the diagnosis. The young age at presentation, multiplicity of manifestations and difficulties in investigation along with the absence of serum monoclonal protein made the diagnosis challenging. We report this case to highlight the need to consider POEMS syndrome in differential diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy in association with endocrine abnormalities even in young patients.

Learning points:

  • POEMS syndrome is considered a ‘low tumor burden disease’ and the monoclonal protein in 15% of cases is not found by immunofixation.

  • Neuropathy is the dominant characteristic of POEMS syndrome and it is peripheral, ascending, symmetric and affecting both sensation and motor function.

  • Endocrinopathies are a frequent feature of POEMS syndrome, but the cause is unknown.

  • The most common endocrinopathies are hypogonadism, primary hypothyroidism and abnormalities in glucose metabolism.

  • There is no standard therapy; however, patients with disseminated bone marrow involvement are treated with chemotherapy with or without HCT.

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Punith Kempegowda Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Lauren Quinn Department of Endocrinology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK

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Lisa Shepherd Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Samina Kauser Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Briony Johnson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Alex Lawson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Andrew Bates Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Summary

A 62-year-old Asian British female presented with increasing tiredness. She had multiple co-morbidities and was prescribed steroid inhalers for asthma. She had also received short courses of oral prednisolone for acute asthma exacerbations in the last 2 years. Unfortunately, the frequency and dose of steroids for asthma was unclear from history. Her type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) control had deteriorated over a short period of time (HbA1c: 48–85 mmol/mol). Blood tests revealed undetectable cortisol and ACTH (<28 mmol/L, <5.0 ng/L). Renin, electrolytes and thyroid function were within normal limits. A diagnosis of secondary adrenal insufficiency, likely due to long-term steroid inhaler and recurrent short courses of oral steroids for asthma exacerbations was made. Patient was commenced on hydrocortisone 10 mg, 5 mg and 5 mg regimen. Steroid inhaler was discontinued following consultation with respiratory physicians. Despite discontinuation of inhaled steroids, patient continued not to mount a response to Synacthen®. Upon further detailed history, patient admitted taking a ‘herbal’ preparation for chronic osteoarthritic knee pain. Toxicology analysis showed presence of dexamethasone, ciprofloxacin, paracetamol, diclofenac, ibuprofen and cimetidine in the herbal medication. Patient was advised to discontinue her herbal preparation. We believe the cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency in our patient was the herbal remedy containing dexamethasone, explaining persistent adrenal suppression despite discontinuation of all prescribed steroids, further possibly contributing to obesity, hypertension and suboptimal control of DM. In conclusion, a comprehensive drug history including herbal and over-the-counter preparations should be elucidated. Investigation for the presence of steroids in these preparations should be considered when patients persist to have secondary adrenal insufficiency despite discontinuation of prescribed steroid medications.

Learning points:

  • The likelihood of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) in medication-induced secondary adrenal insufficiency should be considered in any patient presenting with potential symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.

  • If the contents of CAM preparation cannot be ascertained, toxicology screening should be considered.

  • Patients should be advised to stop taking CAM preparation when it contains steroids and hydrocortisone replacement therapy commenced, with periodic reassessment of adrenal function, and then if indicated weaned accordingly.

  • Patients should be informed about the contents of CAM therapies, so they can make a truly informed choice regarding the risks and benefits.

  • This case also highlights a need to increase regulatory processes over CAM therapies, given their propensity to contain a number of undisclosed medications and potent steroids.

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Wei Yang Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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David Pham Department of Radiology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, USA

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Aren T Vierra Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Sarah Azam Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Dorina Gui Department of Pathology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, USA

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John C Yoon Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Summary

Ectopic ACTH-secreting pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors are rare and account for less than 5% of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome cases. We describe an unusual case of metastatic bronchial carcinoid tumor in a young woman presenting with unprovoked pulmonary emboli, which initially prevented the detection of the primary tumor on imaging. The source of ectopic ACTH was ultimately localized by a Gallium-DOTATATE scan, which demonstrated increased tracer uptake in a right middle lobe lung nodule and multiple liver nodules. The histological diagnosis was established based on a core biopsy of a hepatic lesion and the patient was started on a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist and a somatostatin analog. This case illustrates that hypercogulability can further aggravate the diagnostic challenges in ectopic ACTH syndrome. We discuss the literature on the current diagnosis and management strategies for ectopic ACTH syndrome.

Learning points:

  • In a young patient with concurrent hypokalemia and uncontrolled hypertension on multiple antihypertensive agents, secondary causes of hypertension should be evaluated.

  • Patients with Cushing’s syndrome can develop an acquired hypercoagulable state leading to spontaneous and postoperative venous thromboembolism.

  • Pulmonary emboli may complicate the imaging of the bronchial carcinoid tumor in ectopic ACTH syndrome.

  • Imaging with Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT scan has the highest sensitivity and specificity in detecting ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors.

  • A combination of various noninvasive biochemical tests can enhance the diagnostic accuracy in differentiating Cushing’s disease from ectopic ACTH syndrome provided they have concordant results. Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling remains the gold standard.

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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.

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Valeria de Miguel Departments of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine

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Andrea Paissan Departments of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine

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Patricio García Marchiñena Departments of Urology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine

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Alberto Jurado Departments of Urology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine

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Mariana Isola Pathology, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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José Alfie Hypertension Unit of Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Patricia Fainstein-Day Departments of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine

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Summary

We present the case of a 25-year-old male with a history of neurofibromatosis type 1 and bilateral pheochromocytoma 4 years after kidney transplantation that was successfully treated with simultaneous bilateral posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy.

Learning points:

  • Hypertensive patients with NF1 should always be screened for pheochromocytoma.

  • Pheochromocytoma is rarely associated with transplantation, but it must be ruled out in patients with genetic susceptibility.

  • Posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy (PRA) allows more direct access to the adrenal glands, especially in patients with previous abdominal surgeries.

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Ana Gonçalves Ferreira Endocrinology and Diabetes Department, Garcia de Orta Hospital, Almada, Portugal

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Tiago Nunes da Silva Endocrinology Department, Portuguese Institute of Oncology Francisco Gentil, Lisbon, Portugal

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Sofia Alegria Cardiology Department, Garcia de Orta Hospital, Almada, Portugal

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Maria Carlos Cordeiro Endocrinology and Diabetes Department, Garcia de Orta Hospital, Almada, Portugal

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Jorge Portugal Endocrinology and Diabetes Department, Garcia de Orta Hospital, Almada, Portugal

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Summary

Pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma (PPGL) are neuroendocrine tumors that can secrete catecholamines. The authors describe a challenging case who presented as stress cardiomyopathy and myocardial infarction (MI). A 76-year-old man, with a medical history of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and a previous inferior MI in 2001, presented to the emergency department due to chest pain, headaches and vomiting. He also reported worsening blood glucose levels and increasing constipation over the preceding weeks. BP was 185/89 mmHg (no other relevant findings). EKG had ST segment depression in leads V2-V6, T troponin was 600 ng/L (<14) and the echocardiogram showed left ventricular hypokinesia with mildly compromised systolic function. Nevertheless, he rapidly progressed to severe biventricular dysfunction. Coronary angiogram showed a 90% anterior descendent coronary artery occlusion (already present in 2001), which was treated with angioplasty/stenting. In the following days, a very labile BP profile and unexplained sinus tachycardia episodes were observed. Because of sustained severe constipation, the patient underwent an abdominal CT that revealed a retroperitoneal, heterogeneous, hypervascular mass on the right (62 × 35 mm), most likely a paraganglioma. Urinary metanephrines were increased several fold. 68Ga-DOTANOC PET-CT scan showed increased uptake in the abdominal mass (no evidence of disease elsewhere). He was started on a calcium-channel blocker and alpha blockade and underwent surgery with no major complications. Eight months after surgery, the patient has no evidence of disease. Genetic testing was negative for known germline mutations. This was a challenging diagnosis, but it was essential for adequate cardiovascular stabilization and to reduce further morbidity.

Learning points:

  • PPGL frequently produces catecholamines and can manifest with several cardiovascular syndromes, including stress cardiomyopathy and myocardial infarction.

  • Even in the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD), PPGL should be suspected if signs or symptoms attributed to catecholamine excess are present (in this case, high blood pressure, worsening hyperglycaemia and constipation).

  • Establishing the correct diagnosis is important for adequate treatment choice.

  • Inodilators and mechanical support might be preferable options (if available) for cardiovascular stabilization prior to alpha blockade and surgery.

  • Laboratory interference should be suspected irrespective of metanephrine levels, especially in the context of treated Parkinson’s disease.

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.

Open access