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Open access

Michal Barabas, Isabel Huang-Doran, Debbie Pitfield, Hazel Philips, Manoj Goonewardene, Ruth T Casey and Benjamin G Challis

Summary

A 67-year-old woman presented with a generalised rash associated with weight loss and resting tachycardia. She had a recent diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Biochemical evaluation revealed elevated levels of circulating glucagon and chromogranin B. Cross-sectional imaging demonstrated a pancreatic lesion and liver metastases, which were octreotide-avid. Biopsy of the liver lesion confirmed a diagnosis of well-differentiated grade 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour, consistent with metastatic glucagonoma. Serial echocardiography commenced 4 years before this diagnosis demonstrated a progressive left ventricular dilatation and dysfunction in the absence of ischaemia, suggestive of glucagonoma-associated dilated cardiomyopathy. Given the severity of the cardiac impairment, surgical management was considered inappropriate and somatostatin analogue therapy was initiated, affecting clinical and biochemical improvement. Serial cross-sectional imaging demonstrated stable disease 2 years after diagnosis. Left ventricular dysfunction persisted, however, despite somatostatin analogue therapy and optimal medical management of cardiac failure. In contrast to previous reports, the case we describe demonstrates that chronic hyperglucagonaemia may lead to irreversible left ventricular compromise. Management of glucagonoma therefore requires careful and serial evaluation of cardiac status.

Learning points:

  • In rare cases, glucagonoma may present with cardiac failure as the dominant feature. Significant cardiac impairment may occur in the absence of other features of glucagonoma syndrome due to subclinical chronic hyperglucagonaemia.

  • A diagnosis of glucagonoma should be considered in patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy, particularly those with other features of glucagonoma syndrome.

  • Cardiac impairment due to glucagonoma may not respond to somatostatin analogue therapy, even in the context of biochemical improvement.

  • All patients with a new diagnosis of glucagonoma should be assessed clinically for evidence of cardiac failure and, if present, a baseline transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed. In the presence of cardiac impairment these patients should be managed by an experienced cardiologist.

Open access

N Chelaghma, S O Oyibo and J Rajkanna

Summary

Hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism is due to impaired or reduced gonadotrophin secretion from the pituitary gland. In the absence of any anatomical or functional lesions of the pituitary or hypothalamic gland, the hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism is referred to as idiopathic hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (IHH). We present a case of a young lady born to consanguineous parents who was found to have IHH due to a rare gene mutation.

Learning points:

  • The genetic basis of a majority of cases of IHH remains unknown.

  • IHH can have different clinical endocrine manifestations.

  • Patients can present late to the healthcare service because of unawareness and stigmata associated with the clinical features.

  • Family members of affected individuals can be affected to varying degrees.

Open access

B Cangiano, C Cacciatore, L Persani and M Bonomi

We describe a case of severe erythrocytosis caused by testosterone replacement therapy in a 66-year-old man affected with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH) determining osteoporosis, resolved by switching to restoration therapy with clomiphene citrate. The patient complained fatigue, loss of libido and defective erections and a spontaneous vertebral fracture despite bisphosphonate therapy and vitamin D supplementation. The examinations proved isolated HH and he was therefore treated with testosterone gel with regression of specific manifestations but elevated hemoglobin and hematocrit values. Therefore, it was decided to switch to a restoration therapy with clomiphene citrate 25 mg/die, which resulted in the resolution of symptoms without evident side effects. In a couple of months, the patient showed normalization of testosterone levels and increment of testicular volume. Since secondary hypogonadism is the consequence of an insufficient stimulation of the gonads by hypothalamic–pituitary axis, therapeutic approaches aimed to restore endogenous testosterone production should be considered in alternative to testosterone replacement, particularly if side effects intervene. Among these strategies, clomiphene citrate seems to have a high efficacy and safety profile also in the elderly with isolated HH and no evident pituitary lesion.

Learning points:

  • Hypogonadism should always be assessed in patients with severe loss in BMD and undergo appropriate medical treatment.

  • In hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, more approaches are available other than testosterone replacement therapy alone.

  • In patients with severe late-onset central hypogonadism presenting with erythrocytosis even at low doses of replacement therapy, restoration therapy with clomiphene could prove to be an effective solution, particularly in patients with a reversible disruption of GNRH/gonadotropin functions.

  • Clomiphene citrate increases gonadotropin levels and testicular volume and should therefore be considered in hypogonadal men who wish to remain fertile.

Open access

Christopher Muir, Anthony Dodds and Katherine Samaras

Summary

Diamond–Blackfan anaemia (DBA) is a rare cause of bone marrow failure. The incidence of malignancy and endocrine complications are increased in DBA, relative to other inherited bone marrow failure syndromes. We describe an adult woman with DBA who developed osteoporosis and avascular necrosis (AVN) of both distal femora. Such endocrine complications are not uncommon in DBA, but under-appreciated, especially in adulthood. Further, rectal adenocarcinoma was diagnosed at age 32 years, requiring hemi-colectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy. Elevated cancer risk may warrant disease-specific screening guidelines. Genetic predictors of extra-haematopoetic complications in DBA are yet to be established.

Learning points:

  • Endocrine complications are common in DBA.

  • Clinical vigilance is required in managing bone health of DBA patients treated with glucocorticoids.

  • There is currently no reliable way to predict which patients will develop complications of therapy or premature malignancy related to DBA.

  • Complaints of bone or joint pain should prompt screening with targeted magnetic resonance imaging. Osteoporosis screening should be performed routinely.

Open access

Ana Marina Moreira and Poli Mara Spritzer

Summary

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the condition of intermittent or permanent gonadal insufficiency that occurs in women before the age of 40. We describe three cases of POI referred to the outpatient endocrinology clinic of a university hospital. The three patients met diagnostic criteria for POI and were managed by specific approaches tailored to individualized goals. In the first case, the main concern was fertility and the reproductive prognosis. The second patient was a carrier of a common genetic cause of POI: premutation of the FMR1 gene. The third case was a patient diagnosed with a POI and established osteoporosis, a common complication of estrogen deprivation. This study reports the treatment and follow-up of these cases, with an emphasis on relevant aspects of individualized management, alongside a brief literature review.

Learning points

  • A diagnosis of POI should be considered in patients presenting with amenorrhea or irregular menses and high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels before age 40 years.

  • Patients with POI without an established cause, especially in familial cases, should be tested for FMR1 mutations.

  • Estrogen/progestin replacement therapy is indicated since diagnosis until at least the estimated age of menopause, and is the cornerstone for maintaining the good health of breast and urogenital tract and for primary or secondary osteoporosis prevention in POI.

  • Fertility should be managed through an individualized approach based on patient possibilities, such as egg or embryo donation and ovarian cryopreservation; pregnancy can occur spontaneously in a minority of cases.

  • Women with POI should be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk factors.

Open access

Clement Olukayode Aransiola and Arinola Ipadeola

Summary

Paget's disease is a chronic and progressive disorder of bone characterized by focal areas of excessive osteoclastic resorption accompanied by a secondary increase in the osteoblastic activity. Paget's disease of bone (PBD) is a rare endocrine disease especially among Africans and Asians. Hence the detection of a case in a middle-aged Nigerian is of interest. We present the case of a 62-year-old Nigerian man in apparent good health who was found to have a markedly elevated serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) of 1179 U/l (reference range, 40–115 U/l) 4 years ago during a routine medical check-up in the USA. He had no history suggestive of PDB and also had no known family history of bone disease. Examination findings were not remarkable except for a relatively large head. A repeat ALP in our centre was 902 U/l (reference range, 40–120 U/l). Cranial CT scan showed diffuse cranial vault thickening consistent with Paget's disease which was confirmed by Tc-99m hydroxymethylene diphosphonate. He was placed on 40 mg alendronate tablets daily for 6 months. The patient has remained asymptomatic and has been in continuing biochemical remission during the 3-year follow-up period. The most recent ALP result is 88 U/l (reference range, 30–132 U/l) in April 2015.

Learning points

  • Serum total alkaline phosphatase remains a sensitive marker of bone turnover and an isolated increase above the upper limit of normal warrants more intense scrutiny in form of investigations targeted at excluding PD.

  • Paget's disease is very rare but can occur in the Africans as seen in this Nigerian man and most patients are asymptomatic.

  • Asymptomatic patients can benefit from treatment if disease is active, polyostotic or the lesions are located in bones with future risk of complications such as long bones, vertebrae and skull.

  • Bisphosphonates are still the mainstay of treatment and alendronate is a useful therapeutic option for treatment.

Open access

Jingjing Jiang, Mei Zhang, Ronghua He, Meiping Shen and Wei Liu

Summary

Functional parathyroid cysts are a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism and are often mistaken for thyroid cysts. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is also a very rare cause of hypercalcemia. We report the case of a 62-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with SLE 30 years ago, presenting with clinical and biochemical features of primary hyperparathyroidism. Laboratory investigation revealed increased serum calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels; neck ultrasonography (USG) revealed 40×34×26 mm cystic mass in the left lobe of thyroid gland. PTH level in the cysts was >2500 pg/ml, determined by USG-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA). In this case, no evidence for potential pathogenic association between parathyroid cyst and SLE was uncovered. However, the recognition of this association is very important because the therapeutical strategy is completely different. Operative management is usually straightforward and alleviates symptoms and any biochemical abnormalities caused by the cyst.

Learning points

  • Functional parathyroid cysts are the rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism and are often mistaken for thyroid cysts.

  • SLE is also a very rare cause of hypercalcemia.

  • Ultrasound-guided FNA of cystic fluid with assay for PTH level is an accurate method of differentiating parathyroid cyst from thyroid cyst.

  • Appropriate management of functional parathyroid cysts is surgical excision.

Open access

S A S Aftab, N Reddy, N L Owen, R Pollitt, A Harte, P G McTernan, G Tripathi and T M Barber

Summary

A 19-year-old woman was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). She had sustained numerous low-trauma fractures throughout her childhood, including a recent pelvic fracture (superior and inferior ramus) following a low-impact fall. She had the classical blue sclerae, and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) bone scanning confirmed low bone mass for her age in the lumbar spine (Z-score was −2.6). However, despite these classical clinical features, the diagnosis of OI had not been entertained throughout the whole of her childhood. Sequencing of her genomic DNA revealed that she was heterozygous for the c.3880_3883dup mutation in exon 50 of the COL1A1 gene. This mutation is predicted to result in a frameshift at p.Thr1295, and truncating stop codon 3 amino acids downstream. To our knowledge, this mutation has not previously been reported in OI.

Learning points

  • OI is a rare but important genetic metabolic bone and connective tissue disorder that manifests a diverse clinical phenotype that includes recurrent low-impact fractures.

  • Most mutations that underlie OI occur within exon 50 of the COL1A1 gene (coding for protein constituents of type 1 pro-collagen).

  • The diagnosis of OI is easily missed in its mild form. Early diagnosis is important, and there is a need for improved awareness of OI among health care professionals.

  • OI is a diagnosis of exclusion, although the key diagnostic criterion is through genetic testing for mutations within the COL1A1 gene.

  • Effective management of OI should be instituted through a multidisciplinary team approach that includes a bone specialist (usually an endocrinologist or rheumatologist), a geneticist, an audiometrist and a genetic counsellor. Physiotherapy and orthopaedic surgery may also be required.