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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

Catherine Alguire, Jessica Chbat, Isabelle Forest, Ariane Godbout and Isabelle Bourdeau

Summary

Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor of the adrenal gland. It often presents with the classic triad of headache, palpitations and generalized sweating. Although not described as a typical symptom of pheochromocytoma, anxiety is the fourth most common symptom reported by patients suffering of pheochromocytoma. We report the case of a 64 year old man who had severe anxiety and panic disorder as presenting symptoms of pheochromocytoma. After 13 years of psychiatric follow-up, the patient was diagnosed with malignant pheochromocytoma. After surgical resection of his pheochromocytoma and his hepatic metastases, the major panic attacks completely disappeared, the anxiety symptoms improved significantly and the psychiatric medications were stopped except for a very low maintenance dose of venlafaxine. We found in our cohort of 160 patients with pheochromocytoma 2 others cases of apparently benign tumors with severe anxiety that resolved after pheochromocytoma resection. These cases highlight that pheochromocytoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of refractory anxiety disorder.

Learning points:

  • Anxiety and panic disorder may be the main presenting symptoms of pheochromocytoma.

  • The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma should be excluded in cases of long-term panic disorder refractory to medications since the anxiety may be secondary to a catecholamine-secreting tumor.

  • Surgical treatment of pheochromocytoma leads to significant improvement of anxiety disorders.

Open access

Jennifer Hague, Ruth Casey, Jonathan Bruty, Tom Legerton, Stephen Abbs, Susan Oddy, Andrew S Powlson, Mohamed Majeed, Mark Gurnell, Soo-Mi Park and Helen Simpson

Summary

Activating mutations in AVPR2 are associated with nephrogenic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (NSIAD). NSIAD causes hyponatremia, decreased serum osmolality and clinical symptoms, which may present from birth or in infancy and include hypotonia, irritability, vomiting and/or seizures. Symptoms in later life are often less specific and include malaise, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and headache. NSIAD is a rare X-linked condition, which is associated with a variable phenotype in males, of whom some present in infancy but others do not become symptomatic until adulthood, or occasionally, never. Female carriers may present with episodes of hyponatremia, usually found incidentally. Literature in this field is limited; namely, two clinical reports describing a female proband, both diagnosed in infancy. We describe, for the first time, the case of an adult female proband with NSIAD, who had longstanding associated symptoms of tiredness, headache, temporary memory loss and mood changes as well as hyponatremia and decreased serum osmolality. A water load test demonstrated an inability to dilute urine and gene sequencing confirmed a recurrent activating mutation in AVPR2. The variant was inherited from the proband’s mother who had had longstanding episodes of transient asymptomatic hyponatremia. This is the third report of a female proband with NSIAD and is the first female reported who sought medical treatment for chronic symptoms from adulthood. This case acts as a reminder of the importance of considering NSIAD as a diagnosis in females of all ages with unexplained hyponatremia.

Learning points:

  • Activating mutations in the AVPR2 gene are associated with the rare X-linked condition nephrogenic syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis.

  • NSIAD is associated with hyponatremia, decreased serum osmolality and inappropriately increased urinary osmolality. Early clinical symptoms in infancy include hypotonia, irritability, vomiting and/or seizures. Symptoms in later life include malaise, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and headache.

  • NSIAD should be considered in female, as well as male, patients who present with unexplained hyponatremia and decreased serum osmolality. Family history may reveal relevant symptoms or biochemical features in other family members. However, family history may not always be informative due to the variable nature of the condition or if the proband has a de novo pathogenic variant.

  • A water load test with measurement of AVP may be informative in distinguishing NSIAD from SIADH. Measurement of co-peptin levels may be considered, in substitution for direct measurement of AVP.

  • Patients with NSIAD should be counseled about appropriate daily fluid volume intake. Potential episodes of fluid overload should be avoided.

Open access

Naoya Toriu, Masayuki Yamanouchi, Rikako Hiramatsu, Noriko Hayami, Junichi Hoshino, Akinari Sekine, Masahiro Kawada, Eiko Hasegawa, Tatsuya Suwabe, Keiichi Sumida, Toshiharu Ueno, Naoki Sawa, Kenichi Ohashi, Takeshi Fujii, Kenmei Takaichi, Motoko Yanagita, Tetsuro Kobayasi and Yoshifumi Ubara

Summary

We report the case of a 67-year-old Japanese woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus. At 47 years of age, her hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) was 10.0%, and she had overt nephropathy. The first renal biopsy yielded a diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy. Intensive glycemic control was initiated and her HbA1c improved to 6.0%. Renal dysfunction showed no progression for 15 years. At 62 years of age, a second renal biopsy was performed. Glomerular lesions did not show progression but tubulointerstitial fibrosis and vascular lesions showed progression compared with the first biopsy. Intensive glycemic control can prevent the progression of glomerular lesions, but might not be effective for interstitial and vascular lesions.

Learning points:

  • Intensive control of blood glucose can prevent the progression of glomerular lesions.

  • Intensive control of blood glucose may not be able to prevent progression of interstitial and vascular lesions.

  • CSII reduces HbA1c without increasing the risk of hypoglycemia.

Open access

Tessa Glyn, Beverley Harris and Kate Allen

Summary

We present the case of a 57-year-old lady who had a delayed diagnosis of central hypothyroidism on a background of Grave’s thyrotoxicosis and a partial thyroidectomy. During the twenty years following her partial thyroidectomy, the patient developed a constellation of symptoms and new diagnoses, which were investigated by numerous specialists from various fields, namely rheumatology, renal and respiratory. She developed significantly impaired renal function and raised creatine kinase (CK). She was also referred to a tertiary neurology service for investigation of myositis, which resulted in inconclusive muscle biopsies. Recurrently normal TSH results reassured clinicians that this did not relate to previous thyroid dysfunction. In 2015, she developed increased shortness of breath and was found to have a significant pericardial effusion. The clinical biochemist reviewed this lady’s blood results and elected to add on a free T4 (fT4) and free T3 (fT3), which were found to be <0.4 pmol/L (normal range (NR): 12–22 pmol/L) and 0.3 pmol/L (NR: 3.1–6.8 pmol/L), respectively. She was referred urgently to the endocrine services and commenced on Levothyroxine replacement for profound central hypothyroidism. Her other pituitary hormones and MRI were normal. In the following year, her eGFR and CK normalised, and her myositis symptoms, breathlessness and pericardial effusion resolved. One year following initiation of Levothyroxine, her fT4 and fT3 were in the normal range for the first time. This case highlights the pitfalls of relying purely on TSH for excluding hypothyroidism and the devastating effect the delay in diagnosis had upon this patient.

Learning points:

  • Isolated central hypothyroidism is very rare, but should be considered irrespective of previous thyroid disorders.

  • If clinicians have a strong suspicion that a patient may have hypothyroidism despite normal TSH, they should ensure they measure fT3 and fT4.

  • Laboratories that do not perform fT3 and fT4 routinely should review advice sent to requesting clinicians to include a statement explaining that a normal TSH excludes primary but not secondary hypothyroidism.

  • Thyroid function tests should be performed routinely in patients presenting with renal impairment or a raised CK.

Open access

Kingsley Okolie, Sumathy Perampalam, Anthony Barker and Christopher J Nolan

Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is a chromosomal disorder affecting males, with the typical karyotype of 47,XXY due to a supernumerary X chromosome, which causes progressive testicular failure resulting in androgen deficiency and infertility. Despite it being the most common sex chromosomal disorder, its diagnosis is easily missed. In addition to its classical clinical features of tall stature, gynaecomastia, small testes, and symptoms and signs of hypogonadism including infertility, KS is also often associated with neurocognitive, behavioural and psychiatric disorders.

We present a 44-year-old man with KS who, despite having erectile dysfunction, paradoxically had increased libido. He used sildenafil to overcome his erectile dysfunction. Hypersexuality was manifested by very frequent masturbation, multiple sexual partners most of whom were casual, and a sexual offence conviction at the age of 17 years.

Discussion focuses on the frequent failure of clinicians to diagnose KS, the neurocognitive, behavioural and psychiatric aspects of KS, this unusual presentation of hypersexuality in a man with KS, and the challenges of medical management of hypogonadism in a man with a history of a sexual offence.

Learning points:

  • Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is common in men (about 1 in 600 males), but the diagnosis is very often missed.

  • In addition to classic features of hypogonadism, patients with KS can often have associated neurocognitive, behavioural and/or psychiatric disorders.

  • More awareness of the association between KS and difficulties related to verbal skills in boys could improve rates of early diagnosis and prevent longer-term psychosocial disability.

  • Hypersexuality in the context of hypogonadism raises the possibility of sex steroid independent mechanistic pathways for libido.

  • Testosterone replacement therapy in KS with hypersexuality should be undertaken with caution using a multidisciplinary team approach.

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

Ilse C A Bakker, Chris D Schubart and Pierre M J Zelissen

Summary

In this report, we describe a female patient with both prolactinoma and psychotic disorder who was successfully treated with aripiprazole, a partial dopamine 2 receptor agonist. During the follow-up of more than 10 years, her psychotic symptoms improved considerably, prolactin levels normalised and the size of the prolactinoma decreased. This observation may be of clinical relevance in similar patients who often are difficult to treat with the regular dopaminergic drugs.

Learning points

  • Prolactinoma coinciding with psychosis can represent a therapeutic challenge.

  • In contrast to many other antipsychotic drugs, aripiprazole is associated with a decrease in prolactin levels.

  • Aripiprazole can be a valuable pharmaceutical tool to treat both prolactinoma and psychosis.

Open access

Kharis Burns, Darshika Christie-David and Jenny E Gunton

Summary

Ketoconazole was a first-line agent for suppressing steroidogenesis in Cushing's disease. It now has limited availability. Fluconazole, another azole antifungal, is an alternative, although its in vivo efficacy is unclear. A 61-year-old female presented with weight gain, abdominal striae and worsening depression. HbA1c increased to 76 mmol/mol despite increasing insulin. Investigations confirmed cortisol excess; afternoon serum cortisol was 552 nmol/l with an inappropriate ACTH of 9.3 pmol/l. In total, 24-h urinary free cortisol (UFC):creatinine ratio was 150 nmol/mmol with failure to suppress after 48 h of low-dose dexamethasone. Pituitary MRI revealed a 4-mm microadenoma. Inferior petrosal sinus sampling confirmed Cushing's disease. Transsphenoidal resection was performed and symptoms improved. However, disease recurred 6 months later with elevated 24-h UFC >2200 nmol/day. Metyrapone was commenced at 750 mg tds. Ketoconazole was later added at 400 mg daily, with dose reduction in metyrapone. When ketoconazole became unavailable, fluconazole 200 mg daily was substituted. Urine cortisol:creatinine ratio rose, and the dose was increased to 400 mg daily with normalisation of urine hormone levels. Serum cortisol and urine cortisol:creatinine ratios remain normal on this regimen at 6 months. In conclusion, to our knowledge, this is the first case demonstrating prolonged in vivo efficacy of fluconazole in combination with low-dose metyrapone for the treatment of Cushing's disease. Fluconazole has a more favourable toxicity profile, and we suggest that it is a potential alternative for medical management of Cushing's disease.

Learning points

  • Surgery remains first line for the management of Cushing's disease with pharmacotherapy used where surgery is unsuccessful or there is persistence of cortisol excess.

  • Ketoconazole has previously been used to treat cortisol excess through inhibition of CYP450 enzymes 11-β-hydroxylase and 17-α-hydroxylase, though its availability is limited in many countries.

  • Fluconazole shares similar properties to ketoconazole, although it has less associated toxicity.

  • Fluconazole represents a suitable alternative for the medical management of Cushing's disease and proved an effective addition to metyrapone in the management of this case.

Open access

Lisa Burback

Summary

A previously healthy 32-year-old woman developed cyclical mood swings after being prescribed cabergoline for a pituitary microprolactinoma. These mood swings persisted for over 2 years, at which point she developed an acute manic episode with psychotic features and was admitted to a psychiatry unit. Cabergoline was discontinued and replaced with aripiprazole 10 mg/day. Her manic episode quickly resolved, and she was discharged within 6 days of admission. The aripiprazole suppressed her prolactin levels for over 18 months of follow-up, even after the dose was lowered to 2 mg/day. There was no significant change in tumor size over 15 months, treatment was well tolerated. However, after 9 months of taking 2 mg aripiprazole, she developed brief manic symptoms, and the dose was returned to 10 mg daily, with good effect.

Learning points

  • Dopamine agonists such as cabergoline, which are a standard treatment for microprolactinomas, can have serious adverse effects such as psychosis or valvular heart disease.

  • Aripiprazole is a well-tolerated atypical antipsychotic that, unlike other antipsychotics, is a partial dopamine agonist capable of suppressing prolactin levels.

  • Adjunctive, low-dose aripiprazole has been utilized to reverse risperidone-induced hyperprolactinemia.

  • This case report demonstrates how aripiprazole monotherapy, in doses ranging from 2 to 10 mg/day, was effective in suppressing prolactin in a woman with a microprolactinoma who developed psychiatric side effects from cabergoline.