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Open access

Bidhya Timilsina, Niranjan Tachamo, Prem Raj Parajuli and Ilan Gabriely

Summary

A 74-year-old woman presented with progressive lethargy, confusion, poor appetite and abdominal pain. She was found to have non-PTH-mediated severe hypercalcemia with renal failure and metabolic alkalosis. Extensive workup for hypercalcemia to rule out alternate etiology was unrevealing. Upon further questioning, she was taking excess calcium carbonate (Tums) for her worsening heartburn. She was diagnosed with milk-alkali syndrome (MAS). Her hypercalcemia and alkalosis recovered completely with aggressive hydration along with improvement in her renal function. High index of suspicion should be maintained and history of drug and supplements, especially calcium ingestion, should be routinely asked in patients presenting with hypercalcemia to timely diagnose MAS and prevent unnecessary tests and treatments.

Learning points:

  • Suspect milk-alkali syndrome in patients with hypercalcemia, metabolic alkalosis and renal failure, especially in context of ingestion of excess calcium-containing supplements.

  • Careful history of over-the-counter medications, supplements and diet is crucial to diagnose milk-alkali syndrome.

  • Milk-alkali syndrome may cause severe hypercalcemia in up to 25–30% of cases.

Open access

Marina Tsoli, Anna Angelousi, Dimitra Rontogianni, Constantine Stratakis and Gregory Kaltsas

Summary

Parathyroid carcinoma is an extremely rare endocrine malignancy that accounts for less than 1% of cases of primary hyperparathyroidism. We report a 44-year-old woman who presented with fatigue and diffuse bone pain. Laboratory findings revealed highly elevated serum calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels and a 4.5 × 3 × 2.5 cm cystic lesion in the lower pole of the right thyroid lobe that was shown histologically to be a parathyroid carcinoma. Ten years later, the patient developed brain and pulmonary metastases and recurrence of PTH-related hypercalcemia. Treatment of hypercalcemia along with localized radiotherapy and various chemotherapy regimens failed to induce a biochemical or radiological response. In conclusion, parathyroid carcinoma is a rare neoplasia that may develop metastases even after prolonged follow-up, for which there is no evidence-based treatment besides surgery. Different chemotherapeutic schemes did not prove to be of any benefit in our case highlighting the need for registering such patients to better understand tumor biology and develop specific treatment.

Learning points:

  • Metastases can develop many years after parathyroid cancer diagnosis.

  • Surgery is the only curative treatment for parathyroid carcinoma.

  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy prove to be ineffective in parathyroid cancer treatment.

  • Patient registering is required in order to delineate underlining pathology and offer specific treatment.

Open access

Whitney L Stuard, Bryan K Gallerson and Danielle M Robertson

Summary

The use of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) is rapidly emerging as an important clinical tool to evaluate changes in corneal sensory nerves as a surrogate measure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Commonly used metrics to document and grade the severity of diabetes and risk for diabetic peripheral neuropathy include nerve fiber length, density, branching and tortuosity. In addition to corneal nerves, thinning of the retinal fiber layer has been shown to correlate with the severity of diabetic disease. Here, we present a case report on a pre-diabetic 60-year-old native American woman with abnormal corneal nerve morphology and retinal nerve fiber layer thinning. Her past medical history was positive for illicit substance abuse. IVCM showed a decrease in nerve fiber density and length, in addition to abnormally high levels of tortuosity. OCT revealed focal areas of reduced retinal nerve fiber layer thickness that were asymmetric between eyes. This is the first report of abnormally high levels of tortuosity in the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus in a patient with a past history of cocaine abuse. It also demonstrates, for the first time, that illicit substance abuse can have long-term adverse effects on ocular nerves for years following discontinued use of the drug. Studies using IVCM to evaluate changes in corneal nerve morphology in patients with diabetes need to consider a past history of illicit drug use as an exclusionary measure.

Learning points:

  • Multiple ocular and systemic factors can impede accurate assessment of the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus by IVCM in diabetes.

  • Although current history was negative for illicit substance abuse, past history can have longstanding effects on corneal nerves and the retinal nerve fiber layer.

  • Illicit drug use must be considered an exclusionary measure when evaluating diabetes-induced changes in corneal nerve morphology and the retinal nerve fiber layer.

Open access

Liudmila Rozhinskaya, Ekaterina Pigarova, Ekaterina Sabanova, Elizaveta Mamedova, Iya Voronkova, Julia Krupinova, Larisa Dzeranova, Anatoly Tiulpakov, Vera Gorbunova, Nadezhda Orel, Artur Zalian, Galina Melnichenko and Ivan Dedov

Summary

Parathyroid carcinoma is an extremely rare disorder with little treatment options. It could be misdiagnosed in medical centers with little experience in management of such cases. Our clinical case shows that the initial misdiagnosis of a parathyroid carcinoma in a young woman has led to the development of multiple lung metastases, thus making its treatment hardly possible. Initiation of treatment with sorafenib – a multi-kinase inhibitor approved for treatment of different types of cancer but not parathyroid carcinoma – has led to a significant decrease in the size of lung metastases and has prevented the progression of hyperparathyroidism, which is usually severe in cases of parathyroid carcinoma. The detection of a germline CDC73 mutation in this patient has raised additional concerns about the necessity of periodic screening for early detection of renal, jaw and uterine lesions.

Learning points:

  • Diagnosis of parathyroid carcinoma may be challenging due to the absence of reliable diagnostic criteria. Thus, thorough histological examination is needed using immunohistochemical staining of resected tissue in suspicious cases.

  • CDC73 genetic testing should be considered in patients with parathyroid carcinoma.

  • Sorafenib may be a promising treatment of patients with parathyroid carcinoma with distant metastases.

Open access

Anna Casteràs, Lídia Darder, Carles Zafon, Juan Antonio Hueto, Margarita Alberola, Enric Caubet and Jordi Mesa

Summary

Skeletal manifestations of primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) include brown tumors (BT), which are osteoclastic focal lesions often localized in the jaws. Brown tumors are a rare manifestation of pHTP in Europe and USA; however, they are frequent in developing countries, probably related to vitamin D deficiency and longer duration and severity of disease. In the majority of cases, the removal of the parathyroid adenoma is enough for the bone to remineralize, but other cases require surgery. Hyperparathyroidism in MEN1 develops early, and is multiglandular and the timing of surgery remains questionable. To our knowledge, there are no reports of BT in MEN 1 patients. We present a 29-year-old woman with MEN 1 who developed a brown tumor of the jaw 24 months after getting pregnant, while breastfeeding. Serum corrected calcium remained under 2.7 during gestation, and at that point reached a maximum of 2.82 mmol/L. Concomitant PTH was 196 pg/mL, vitamin D 13.7 ng/mL and alkaline phosphatase 150 IU/L. Bone mineral density showed osteopenia on spine and femoral neck (both T-scores = −1.6). Total parathyroidectomy was performed within two weeks, with a failed glandular graft autotransplantation, leading to permanent hypoparathyroidism. Two months after removal of parathyroid glands, the jaw tumor did not shrink; thus, finally it was successfully excised. We hypothesize that higher vitamin D and mineral requirements during maternity may have triggered an accelerated bone resorption followed by appearance of the jaw BT. We suggest to treat pHPT before planning a pregnancy in MEN1 women or otherwise supplement with vitamin D, although this approach may precipitate severe hypercalcemia.

Learning points:

  • Brown tumors of the jaw can develop in MEN 1 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism at a young age (less than 30 years).

  • Pregnancy and lactation might trigger brown tumors by increasing mineral and vitamin D requirements.

  • Early parathyroidectomy is advisable in MEN 1 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, at least before planning a pregnancy.

  • Standard bone mineral density does not correlate with the risk of appearance of a brown tumor.

  • Removal of parathyroid glands does not always lead to the shrinkage of the brown tumor, and surgical excision may be necessary.

Open access

Nobuhiro Miyamura, Shuhei Nishida, Mina Itasaka, Hirofumi Matsuda, Takeshi Ohtou, Yasuhiro Yamaguchi, Daisuke Inaba, Sadahiro Tamiya and Tetsuo Nakano

Summary

Hepatitis C-associated osteosclerosis (HCAO), a very rare disorder in which an extremely rapid bone turnover occurs and results in osteosclerosis, was acknowledged in 1990s as a new clinical entity with the unique bone disorder and definite link to chronic type C hepatitis, although the pathogenesis still remains unknown. Affected patients suffer from excruciating deep bone pains. We report the 19th case of HCAO with diagnosis confirmed by bone biopsy, and treated initially with a bisphosphonate, next with corticosteroids and finally with direct acting antivirals (DAA: sofosbuvir and ribavirin) for HCV infection. Risedronate, 17.5 mg/day for 38 days, did not improve the patient’s symptoms or extremely elevated levels of bone markers, which indicated hyper-bone-formation and coexisting hyper-bone-resorption in the patient. Next, intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy followed by high-dose oral administration of prednisolone evidently improved them. DAA therapy initiated after steroid therapy successfully achieved sustained virological response, but no additional therapeutic effect on them was observed. Our results strongly suggested that the underlying immunological alteration is the crucial key to clarify the pathogenesis of HCAO. Bone mineral density of lumbar vertebrae of the patient was increased by 14% in four-month period of observation. Clarification of the mechanisms that develop osteosclerosis in HCAO might lead to a new therapeutic perspective for osteoporosis.

Learning points:

  • HCAO is an extremely rare bone disorder, which occurs exclusively in patients affected with HCV, of which only 18 cases have been reported since 1992 and pathogenesis still remains unclear.

  • Pathophysiology of HCAO is highly accelerated rates of both bone formation and bone resorption, with higher rate of formation than that of resorption, which occur in general skeletal leading to the diffuse osteosclerosis with severe bone pains.

  • Steroid therapy including intravenous pulse administration in our patient evidently ameliorated his bone pains and reduced elevated values of bone markers. This was the first successful treatment for HCAO among cases reported so far and seemed to propose a key to solve the question for its pathogenesis.

  • The speed of increase in the bone mineral content of the patient was very high, suggesting that clarification of the mechanism(s) might lead to the development of a novel therapy for osteoporosis.

Open access

Naweed Alzaman, Anastassios G Pittas, Miriam O'Leary and Lisa Ceglia

Summary

Transient hypocalcemia after thyroidectomy is not uncommon and the risk increases with the extent of neck surgery. We report a case of severe and prolonged hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy complicated by thoracic duct injury. Hypoparathyroidism and thoracic duct injury are potential complications following total thyroidectomy with extensive lymph node dissection. This case suggested that having both conditions may complicate treatment of hypoparathyroid-induced hypocalcemia by way of losses of calcium and vitamin D in the chyle leak.

Learning points

  • This report highlights chyle leak as an uncommon cause of prolonged hypocalcemia in patients who have undergone extensive neck surgery.

  • Chyle has an electrolyte concentration similar to that of plasma.

  • Medical treatment options for a chyle leak include fat-free oral diet or parenteral nutrition without oral intake, pharmacological treatment (primarily octreotide).