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Skand Shekhar Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Rasha Haykal Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Crystal Kamilaris Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Constantine A Stratakis Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Fady Hannah-Shmouni Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Summary

A 29-year-old primigravida woman with a known history of primary aldosteronism due to a right aldosteronoma presented with uncontrolled hypertension at 5 weeks of estimated gestation of a spontaneous pregnancy. Her hypertension was inadequately controlled with pharmacotherapy which lead to the consideration of surgical management for her primary aldosteronism. She underwent curative right unilateral adrenalectomy at 19 weeks of estimated gestational age. The procedure was uncomplicated, and her blood pressure normalized post-operatively. She did, however, have a preterm delivery by cesarean section due to intrauterine growth retardation with good neonatal outcome. She is normotensive to date.

Learning points:

  • Primary aldosteronism is the most common etiology of secondary hypertension with an estimated prevalence of 5–10% in the hypertensive population.

  • It is important to recognize the subtypes of primary aldosteronism given that certain forms can be treated surgically.

  • Hypertension in pregnancy is associated with significantly higher maternal and fetal complications.

  • Data regarding the treatment of primary aldosteronism in pregnancy are limited.

  • Adrenalectomy can be considered during the second trimester of pregnancy if medical therapy fails to adequately control hypertension from primary aldosteronism.

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Nirusha Arnold Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Victor O’Toole Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Tien Huynh Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Howard C Smith Westmead Teaching Hospital, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Catherine Luxford Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Roderick Clifton-Bligh Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Creswell J Eastman Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Westmead Teaching Hospital, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Summary

Parathyroid-independent hypercalcaemia of pregnancy, due to biallelic loss of function of the P450 enzyme CYP24A1, the principal inactivator of 1,25(OH)2D results in hypervitaminosis D, hypercalcaemia and hypercalciuria. We report two cases of this disorder, with intractable hypercalcaemia, one occurring during gestation and into the postpartum, and the other in the postpartum period. Case 1, a 47-year-old woman with a twin pregnancy conceived by embryo transfer, presented with hypercalcaemia at 23 weeks gestation with subnormal serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) and normal serum 25-OH D levels. She was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks gestation with pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes and increasing hypercalcaemia. Caesarean section at 34 weeks gestation delivered two healthy females weighing 2.13 kg and 2.51 kg. At delivery, the patient’s serum calcium level was 2.90 mmol/L. Postpartum severe hypercalcaemia was treated successfully with Denosumab 60 mg SCI, given on two occasions. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was compound heterozygous for pathogenic variants c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del) and c.1186C>T, (p.Arg396Trp). Case 2, a 36-year-old woman presented 4 days after the delivery of healthy twins with dyspnoea, bradycardia, severe headaches, hypertension and generalized tonic-clonic seizures after an uneventful pregnancy. She was hypercalcaemic with a suppressed PTH, normal 25(OH)D, and elevated 1,25(OH)2D levels. Her symptoms partially responded to i.v. saline and corticosteroids in the short term but bisphosphonates such as Pamidronate and Zoledronic acid did not result in sustained improvement. Denosumab 120 mg SCI successfully treated the hypercalcaemia which resolved completely 2 months post-partum. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was homozygous for the pathogenic variant c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del).

Learning points:

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be associated with considerable morbidity with few options available for management.

  • In non-PTH-related hypercalcaemia the diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency should be considered.

  • Making a definitive diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency by genetic testing delays the diagnosis, while the availability of serum 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (24,25(OH)2D) will expedite a diagnosis.

  • In pregnant women with CYP24A1 deficiency hypercalcaemia can worsen in the post-partum period and is more likely to occur with twin pregnancies but generally resolves within 2–3 months.

  • Therapeutic alternatives are limited in pregnancy and their effectiveness is short-lived and mostly ineffective. Denosumab used in both our patients after delivery was the most effective agent normalizing calcium and may have benefit as a long-term therapeutic agent in preventing complications in patients with CYP24A1 deficiency.

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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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Pedro Marques Department of Endocrinology, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London, UK

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Nicola Tufton Department of Endocrinology, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London, UK

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Satya Bhattacharya Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery Unit, The Royal London Hospital, London, UK

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Mark Caulfield Clinical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Scott A Akker Department of Endocrinology, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London, UK

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Summary

Mineralocorticoid hypertension is most often caused by autonomous overproduction of aldosterone, but excess of other mineralocorticoid precursors can lead to a similar presentation. 11-Deoxycorticosterone (DOC) excess, which can occur in 11-β hydroxylase or 17-α hydroxylase deficiencies, in DOC-producing adrenocortical tumours or in patients taking 11-β hydroxylase inhibitors, may cause mineralocorticoid hypertension. We report a 35-year-old woman who in the third trimester of pregnancy was found to have a large adrenal mass on routine obstetric ultrasound. On referral to our unit, persistent hypertension and long-standing hypokalaemia was noted, despite good compliance with multiple antihypertensives. Ten years earlier, she had hypertension noted in pregnancy which had persisted after delivery. A MRI scan confirmed the presence of a 12 cm adrenal mass and biochemistry revealed high levels of DOC and low/normal renin, aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone, with normal catecholamine levels. The patient was treated with antihypertensives until obstetric delivery, following which she underwent an adrenalectomy. Histology confirmed a large adrenal cortical neoplasm of uncertain malignant potential. Postoperatively, blood pressure and serum potassium normalised, and the antihypertensive medication was stopped. Over 10 years of follow-up, she remains asymptomatic with normal DOC measurements. This case should alert clinicians to the possibility of a diagnosis of a DOC-producing adrenal tumours in patients with adrenal nodules and apparent mineralocorticoid hypertension in the presence of low or normal levels of aldosterone. The associated diagnostic and management challenges are discussed.

Learning points:

  • Hypermineralocorticoidism is characterised by hypertension, volume expansion and hypokalaemic alkalosis and is most commonly due to overproduction of aldosterone. However, excess of other mineralocorticoid products, such as DOC, lead to the same syndrome but with normal or low aldosterone levels.

  • The differential diagnosis of resistant hypertension with low renin and low/normal aldosterone includes congenital adrenal hyperplasia, syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess, Cushing’s syndrome, Liddle’s syndrome and 11-deoxycorticosterone-producing tumours.

  • DOC is one intermediate product in the mineralocorticoid synthesis with weaker activity than aldosterone. However, marked DOC excess seen in 11-β hydroxylase or 17-α hydroxylase deficiencies in DOC-producing adrenocortical tumours or in patients taking 11-β hydroxylase inhibitors, may cause mineralocorticoid hypertension.

  • Excessive production of DOC in adrenocortical tumours has been attributed to reduced activity of the enzymes 11-β hydroxylase and 17-α hydroxylase and increased activity of 21-α hydroxylase.

  • The diagnosis of DOC-producing adrenal tumours is challenging because of its rarity and poor availability of DOC laboratory assays.

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R T Casey Departments of Endocrinology and Diabetes

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B G Challis Departments of Endocrinology and Diabetes

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D Pitfield Departments of Endocrinology and Diabetes

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R M Mahroof Departments of Anaesthetics

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N Jamieson Departments of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery

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C J Bhagra Departments of Cardiology, Cambridge University NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

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A Vuylsteke Critical Care Unit

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S J Pettit Advanced Heart Failure Unit, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

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K C Chatterjee Departments of Endocrinology and Diabetes

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Summary

A phaeochromocytoma (PC) is a rare, catecholamine-secreting neuroendocrine tumour arising from the adrenal medulla. Presenting symptoms of this rare tumour are highly variable but life-threatening multiorgan dysfunction can occur secondary to catecholamine-induced hypertension or hypotension and subsequent cardiovascular collapse. High levels of circulating catecholamines can induce an acute stress cardiomyopathy, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Recent studies have focused on early diagnosis and estimation of the prevalence of acute stress cardiomyopathy in patients with PC, but very little is reported about management of these complex cases. Here, we report the case of a 38-year-old lady who presented with an acute Takotsubo or stress cardiomyopathy and catecholamine crisis, caused by an occult left-sided 5 cm PC. The initial presenting crisis manifested with symptoms of severe headache and abdominal pain, triggered by a respiratory tract infection. On admission to hospital, the patient rapidly deteriorated, developing respiratory failure, cardiogenic shock and subsequent cardiovascular collapse due to further exacerbation of the catecholamine crisis caused by a combination of opiates and intravenous corticosteroid. An echocardiogram revealed left ventricular apical hypokinesia and ballooning, with an estimated left ventricular ejection fraction of 10–15%. Herein, we outline the early stabilisation period, preoperative optimisation and intraoperative management, providing anecdotal guidance for the management of this rare life-threatening complication of PC.

Learning points:

  • A diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma should be considered in patients presenting with acute cardiomyopathy or cardiogenic shock without a clear ischaemic or valvular aetiology.

  • Catecholamine crisis is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires cross-disciplinary expertise and management to ensure the best clinical outcome.

  • After initial resuscitation, treatment of acute catecholamine-induced stress cardiomyopathy requires careful introduction of alpha-blockade followed by beta-blockade if necessary to manage β-receptor-mediated tachycardia.

  • Prolonged α-adrenergic receptor stimulation by high levels of circulating catecholamines precipitates arterial vasoconstriction and intravascular volume contraction, which can further exacerbate hypotension. Invasive pressure monitoring can aid management of intravascular volume in these complex patients.

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Stephanie Teasdale
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Elham Reda Endocrinology, Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport, Queensland, Australia

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Summary

We present two cases of adrenal phaeochromocytoma in patients with a previous diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). One had an adrenergic phenotype. The other had a more noradrenergic phenotype. Both had large primary tumours, which increases the likelihood of malignancy. Both also had elevated plasma-free methoxytyramine, which has been linked with malignancy even in non-SDHB phaeochromocytomas.

Learning points

  • Phaeochromocytoma can have varied clinical presentations.

  • Methoxytyramine can be useful in the biochemical work-up of both SDHB-positive and SDHB-negative phaeochromocytoma.

  • The utility of methoxytyramine as a marker of malignancy in NF1-related phaeochromocytoma is unclear, and cases with elevated titres warrant longer follow-up.

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Annika Sjoeholm Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Cassandra Li Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Chaey Leem Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Aiden Lee Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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Maria P Stack Paediatric Nephrology, Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand

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Paul L Hofman Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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Benjamin J Wheeler Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Paediatric Endocrinology, Southern District Health Board, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Summary

Phaeochromocytomas are a rare clinical entity, with dual hormone-secreting lesions particularly uncommon, seen in <1%. ACTH is the most common hormone co-produced, and is potentially lethal if not diagnosed. We present the case of a previously well 10-year-old boy, who presented acutely with a hypertensive crisis and was found to have a unilateral, non-syndromic phaeochromocytoma. Medical stabilization of his hypertension was challenging, and took 3 weeks to achieve, before proceeding to unilateral adrenalectomy. Post-operatively the child experienced severe fatigue and was subsequently confirmed to have adrenal insufficiency. He improved markedly with hydrocortisone replacement therapy, which is ongoing 6 months post-operatively. In retrospect this likely represents unrecognized, sub-clinical ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome secondary to an ACTH/or precursor dual-hormone secreting phaeochromocytoma. At follow-up, his hypertension had resolved, there was no biochemical evidence of recurrence of the phaeochromocytoma, and genetic analysis was indicative of a sporadic lesion.

Learning points

  • Dual hormone secreting phaeochromocytomas with ACTH/or a precursor may cause secondary adrenal insufficiency following surgical removal.

  • The concurrent features of Cushing's syndrome can be mild and easily overlooked presenting diagnostic and management pitfalls.

  • As concomitant syndromes of hormone excess are rare in phaeochromocytomas; the diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion.

  • Serial/diurnal cortisol levels, ACTH measurement +/− low dose dexamethasone suppression (when clinically stable, appropriate adrenergic blockade in place, and well supervised), can all be considered as needed.

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Omayma Elshafie Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Yahya Al Badaai Department of Surgery, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Khalifa Alwahaibi Department of Surgery, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Asim Qureshi Department of Pathology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Samir Hussein Department of Radiology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Faisal Al Azzri Department of Radiology, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Ali Almamari Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Nicholas Woodhouse Department of Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Summary

A 48-year-old hypertensive and diabetic patient presented with a 10-year history of progressive right facial pain, tinnitus, hearing loss, sweating, and palpitations. Investigations revealed a 5.6 cm vascular tumor at the carotid bifurcation. Her blood pressure (BP) was 170/110, on lisinopril 20 mg od and amlodipine 10 mg od and 100 U of insulin daily. A catecholamine-secreting carotid body paraganglioma (CSCBP) was suspected; the diagnosis was confirmed biochemically by determining plasma norepinephrine (NE) level, 89 000 pmol/l, and chromogranin A (CgA) level, 279 μg/l. Meta-iodobenzylguanidine and octreotide scanning confirmed a single tumor in the neck. A week after giving the patient a trial of octreotide 100 μg 8 h, the NE level dropped progressively from 50 000 to 25 000 pmol/l and CgA from 279 to 25 μg/l. Treatment was therefore continued with labetalol 200 mg twice daily (bid) and long-acting octreotide-LA initially using 40 mg/month and later increasing to 80 mg/month. On this dose and with a reduced labetalol intake of 100 mg bid, BP was maintained at 130/70 and her symptoms resolved completely. CgA levels returned to normal in the first week and these were maintained throughout the 3 month treatment period. During tumor resection, there were minimal BP fluctuations during the 10 h procedure. We conclude that short-term high-dose octreotide-LA might prove valuable in the preoperative management of catecholamine-secreting tumors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the successful use of octreotide in a CSCBP.

Learning points

  • The value of octreotide scanning in the localization of extra-adrenal pheochromocytoma.

  • Control of catecholamine secretion using high-dose octreotide.

  • This is a report of a rare cause of secondary diabetes and hypertension.

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