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Tomomi Nakao First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Ken Takeshima First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Hiroyuki Ariyasu First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Chiaki Kurimoto First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Shinsuke Uraki First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Shuhei Morita First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Yasushi Furukawa First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Hiroshi Iwakura First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Takashi Akamizu First Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Wakayama, Japan

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Summary

Thyroid storm (TS) is a life-threatening condition that may suffer thyrotoxic patients. Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is a rescue approach for TS with acute hepatic failure, but it should be initiated with careful considerations. We present a 55-year-old male patient with untreated Graves’ disease who developed TS. Severe hyperthyroidism and refractory atrial fibrillation with congestive heart failure aggregated to multiple organ failure. The patient was recovered by intensive multimodal therapy, but we had difficulty in introducing TPE treatment considering the risk of exacerbation of congestive heart failure due to plasma volume overload. In addition, serum total bilirubin level was not elevated in the early phase to the level of indication for TPE. The clinical course of this patient instructed delayed elevation of bilirubin until the level of indication for TPE in some patients and also demonstrated the risk of exacerbation of congestive heart failure by TPE.

Learning points:

  • Our patient with thyroid storm could be diagnosed and treated promptly using Japan Thyroid Association guidelines for thyroid storm.

  • Delayed elevation of serum bilirubin levels could make the decision of introducing therapeutic plasma exchange difficult in cases of thyroid storm with acute hepatic failure.

  • The risk of worsening congestive heart failure should be considered carefully when performing therapeutic plasma exchange.

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Jai Madhok Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Amy Kloosterboer Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Chitra Venkatasubramanian Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, USA

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Frederick G Mihm Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Summary

We report the case of a 76-year-old male with a remote history of papillary thyroid cancer who developed severe paroxysmal headaches in the setting of episodic hypertension. Brain imaging revealed multiple lesions, initially of inconclusive etiology, but suspicious for metastatic foci. A search for the primary malignancy revealed an adrenal tumor, and biochemical testing confirmed the diagnosis of a norepinephrine-secreting pheochromocytoma. Serial imaging demonstrated multiple cerebral infarctions of varying ages, evidence of vessel narrowing and irregularities in the anterior and posterior circulations, and hypoperfusion in watershed areas. An exhaustive work-up for other etiologies of stroke including thromboembolic causes or vasculitis was unremarkable. There was resolution of symptoms, absence of new infarctions, and improvement in vessel caliber after adequate alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade for the management of pheochromocytoma. This clinicoradiologic constellation of findings suggested that the etiology of the multiple infarctions was reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). Pheochromocytoma remains a poorly recognized cause of RCVS. Unexplained multifocal cerebral infarctions in the setting of severe hypertension should prompt the consideration of a vasoactive tumor as the driver of cerebrovascular dysfunction. A missed or delayed diagnosis has the potential for serious neurologic morbidity for an otherwise treatable condition.

Learning points:

  • The constellation of multifocal watershed cerebral infarctions of uncertain etiology in a patient with malignant hypertension should trigger the consideration of undiagnosed catecholamine secreting tumors, such as pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome is a serious but reversible cerebrovascular manifestation of pheochromocytomas that may lead to strokes (ischemic and hemorrhagic), seizures, and cerebral edema.

  • Alpha-adrenergic receptor blockade can reverse cerebral vasoconstriction and prevent further cerebral ischemia and infarctions.

  • Early diagnosis of catecholamine secreting tumors has the potential for reducing neurologic morbidity and mortality in patients presenting with cerebrovascular complications.

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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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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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J K Witczak Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Prince Phillip Hospital
Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

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N Ubaysekara Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

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R Ravindran Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

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S Rice Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Prince Phillip Hospital

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Z Yousef Department of Cardiology, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

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L D Premawardhana Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK

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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.

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Maria Tomkins Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Beaumont Hospital Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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Roxana Maria Tudor Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Beaumont Hospital Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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Diarmuid Smith Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Beaumont Hospital Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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Amar Agha Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Beaumont Hospital Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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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.

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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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Eka Melson Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Sidra Amir University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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

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Samina Kauser University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Bethan Freestone University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Punith Kempegowda University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Summary

Although pheochromocytoma classically presents with headaches, palpitations and paroxysmal hypertension, atypical presentations such as cardiomyopathy, stroke and subarachnoid haemorrhage have been infrequently documented. We present in this case report, an uncommon presentation of pheochromocytoma with myocardial infarction with normal coronary arteries (MINOCA). A 79-year-old woman presented with central crushing chest pain radiating to left arm associated with headache, palpitations, sweating and difficulty in breathing. For 2 years, she experienced brief episodes of headache, tinnitus, dizziness, palpitations, and sweating that spontaneously resolved. Clinical examination was unremarkable except for high blood pressure (210/105 mmHg). Her electrocardiogram showed T wave inversions from V1 to V6 and elevated troponins (774 ng/L at baseline and 932 ng/L 3 h from baseline (normal <16 ng/L) in keeping with a diagnosis of non-ST elevated myocardial infarction. Coronary angiography showed normal coronary arteries. Patient was hence treated as myocardial infarction with normal coronaries (MINOCA). Despite appropriate treatment for MINOCA, she continued to experience episodic headaches, palpitations, dizziness and erratic blood pressures (particularly severe hypertension shortly after beta-blocker administration). Further investigations revealed raised urine noradrenaline of 4724 nmol/24 h (<554 nmol/24 h) and urine adrenaline of 92863 nmol/24 h (<77 nmol/24 h). Computerised tomography demonstrated a well-defined rounded mass in right adrenal gland morphological of pheochromocytoma. She underwent laparoscopic right adrenalectomy with histology confirming pheochromocytoma. This case highlights the importance of thorough investigation for the underlying cause for MINOCA. In patients with unexplained erratic blood pressure control, pheochromocytoma should be considered as a differential diagnosis.

Learning points:

  • Pheochromocytoma is rare tumour that often presents with non-specific symptoms.

  • It is important to investigate underlying cause of MINOCA.

  • Thorough history is the key to diagnosis.

Open access
Yuri Tanaka Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Taisuke Uchida Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Hideki Yamaguchi Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Yohei Kudo Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Tadato Yonekawa Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Masamitsu Nakazato Division of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Summary

We report the case of a 48-year-old man with thyroid storm associated with fulminant hepatitis and elevated levels of soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R). Fatigue, low-grade fever, shortness of breath, and weight loss developed over several months. The patient was admitted to the hospital because of tachycardia-induced heart failure and liver dysfunction. Graves’ disease with heart failure was diagnosed. He was treated with methimazole, inorganic iodide, and a β-blocker. On the day after admission, he became unconscious with a high fever and was transferred to the intensive care unit. Cardiogenic shock with atrial flutter was treated with intra-aortic balloon pumping and cardioversion. Hyperthyroidism decreased over 10 days, but hepatic failure developed. He was diagnosed with thyroid storm accompanied by fulminant hepatitis. Laboratory investigations revealed elevated levels of sIL-2R (9770 U/mL). The fulminant hepatitis was refractory to plasma exchange and plasma filtration with dialysis, and no donors for liver transplantation were available. He died of hemoperitoneum and gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to fulminant hepatitis 62 days after admission. Elevated circulating levels of sIL-2R might be a marker of poor prognosis in thyroid storm with fulminant hepatitis.

Learning points:

  • The prognosis of thyroid storm when fulminant hepatitis occurs is poor.

  • Liver transplantation is the preferred treatment for fulminant hepatitis induced by thyroid storm refractory to plasma exchange.

  • Elevated levels of soluble interleukin-2 receptor might be a marker of poor prognosis in patients with thyroid storm.

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Hui Yi Ng Department of Clinical Medicine, Level 4, Macquarie University, 2 Technology Place, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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Divya Namboodiri Department of Clinical Medicine, Level 4, Macquarie University, 2 Technology Place, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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Diana Learoyd University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Northern Clinical School, Reserve Road St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia

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Andrew Davidson Department of Neurosurgery, Level 2, Macquarie University, 2 Technology Place Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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Bernard Champion Department of Clinical Medicine, Level 4, Macquarie University, 2 Technology Place, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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Veronica Preda Department of Clinical Medicine, Level 4, Macquarie University, 2 Technology Place, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia

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Summary

Co-secreting thyrotropin/growth hormone (GH) pituitary adenomas are rare; their clinical presentation and long-term management are challenging. There is also a paucity of long-term data. Due to the cell of origin, these can behave as aggressive tumours. We report a case of a pituitary plurihormonal pit-1-derived macroadenoma, with overt clinical hyperthyroidism and minimal GH excess symptoms. The diagnosis was confirmed by pathology showing elevated thyroid and GH axes with failure of physiological GH suppression, elevated pituitary glycoprotein hormone alpha subunit (αGSU) and macroadenoma on imaging. Pre-operatively the patient was rendered euthyroid with carbimazole and underwent successful transphenoidal adenomectomy (TSA) with surgical cure. Histopathology displayed an elevated Ki-67 of 5.2%, necessitating long-term follow-up.

Learning points:

  • Thyrotropinomas are rare and likely under-diagnosed due to under-recognition of secondary hyperthyroidism.

  • Thyrotropinomas and other plurihormonal pit-1-derived adenomas are more aggressive adenomas according to WHO guidelines.

  • Co-secretion occurs in 30% of thyrotropinomas, requiring diligent investigation and long-term follow-up of complications.

Open access