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Open access

M Horsey, P Hogan and T Oliver

Summary

A 71-year-old woman with severe right lower leg pain, edema and erythema was presented to the Emergency Department and was found to have an extensive deep vein thrombosis (DVT) confirmed by ultrasound. She underwent an extensive evaluation due to her prior history of malignancy and new hypercoagulable state, but no evidence of recurrent disease was detected. Further investigation revealed pernicious anemia (PA), confirmed by the presence of a macrocytic anemia (MCV=115.8fL/red cell, Hgb=9.0g/dL), decreased serum B12 levels (56pg/mL), with resultant increased methylmalonic acid (5303nmol/L) and hyperhomocysteinemia (131μmol/L), the presumed etiology of the DVT. The patient also suffered from autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), and both antithyroglobulin and anti-intrinsic factor antibodies were detected. She responded briskly to anticoagulation with heparin and coumadin and treatment of PA with intramuscular vitamin B12 injections. Our case suggests that a DVT secondary to hyperhomocystenemia may represent the first sign of polyglandular autoimmune syndrome III-B (PAS III-B), defined as the coexistent autoimmune conditions AITD and PA. It is important to recognize this clinical entity, as patients may not only require acute treatment with vitamin B12 supplementation and prolonged anticoagulation, as in this patient, but may also harbor other autoimmune diseases.

Learning points

  • A DVT can be the first physical manifestation of a polyglandular autoimmune syndrome.

  • Hyperhomocysteinemia secondary to pernicious anemia should be considered as an etiology of an unprovoked DVT in a euthyroid patient with autoimmune thyroid disease.

  • Patients with DVT secondary to hyperhomocysteinemia should undergo screening for the presence of co-existent autoimmune diseases in addition to treatment with B12 supplementation and anticoagulation to prevent recurrent thromboembolism.

Open access

Arshiya Tabasum, Ishrat Khan, Peter Taylor, Gautam Das and Onyebuchi E Okosieme

Summary

TSH receptor antibodies (TRAbs) are the pathological hallmark of Graves’ disease, present in nearly all patients with the disease. Euthyroid Graves’ ophthalmopathy (EGO) is a well-recognized clinical entity, but its occurrence in patients with negative TRAbs is a potential source of diagnostic confusion. A 66-year-old female presented to our endocrinology clinic with right eye pain and diplopia in the absence of thyroid dysfunction. TRAbs were negative, as measured with a highly sensitive third-generation thyrotropin-binding inhibitory immunoglobulin (TBII) ELISA assay. CT and MRI scans of the orbit showed asymmetrical thickening of the inferior rectus muscles but no other inflammatory or malignant orbital pathology. Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO) was diagnosed on the basis of the clinical and radiological features, and she underwent surgical recession of the inferior rectus muscle with complete resolution of the diplopia and orbital pain. She remained euthyroid over the course of follow-up but ultimately developed overt clinical and biochemical hyperthyroidism, 24 months after the initial presentation. By this time, she had developed positive TRAb as well as thyroid peroxidase antibodies. She responded to treatment with thionamides and remains euthyroid. This case highlights the potential for negative thyroid-specific autoantibodies in the presentation of EGO and underscores the variable temporal relationship between the clinical expression of thyroid dysfunction and orbital disease in the natural evolution of Graves’ disease.

Learning points

  • Euthyroid Graves’ ophthalmopathy can present initially with negative thyroid-specific autoantibodies.

  • Patients with suggestive symptoms of ophthalmopathy should be carefully evaluated for GO with imaging studies even when thyroid function and autoantibodies are normal.

  • Patients with EGO can develop thyroid dysfunction within 4 years of follow-up underpinning the need for long-term follow-up and continued patient and physician vigilance in patients who have been treated for EGO.

Open access

Alessandro Mantovani, Maddalena Trombetta, Chiara Imbriaco, Riccardo Rigolon, Lucia Mingolla, Federica Zamboni, Francesca Dal Molin, Dario Cioccoloni, Viola Sanga, Massimiliano Bruti, Enrico Brocco, Michela Conti, Giorgio Ravenna, Fabrizia Perrone, Vincenzo Stoico and Enzo Bonora

Summary

Vertebral osteomyelitis (or spondylodiscitis) is steadily increasing in Western countries and often results from hematogenous seeding, direct inoculation during spinal surgery, or contiguous spread from an infection in the adjacent soft tissue. We present the case of a 67-year-old white patient with type 2 diabetes who went to Hospital for high fever, back pain, and worsening of known infected ulcers in the left foot. Despite intravenous antibiotic treatment and surgical debridement of the foot infection, high fever and lower back pain continued. Bone biopsy and two consecutive blood cultures were positive for Staphylococcus aureus. A spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed, revealing serious osteomyelitis in L4 and L5 complicated by an epidural abscess. Contiguous or other distant focuses of infection were not identified. In this case, diabetic foot could be considered as a primary distant focus for vertebral osteomyelitis. Clinicians should consider vertebral osteomyelitis as a ‘possible’ diagnosis in patients with type 2 diabetes complicated by foot infection that is associated with fever and lower back pain.

Learning points

  • Vertebral osteomyelitis is increasing in Western countries, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  • The primary focus of infection is the genitourinary tract followed by skin, soft tissue, endocarditis, bursitis, septic arthritis, and intravascular access.

  • Diabetic foot could be a rare primary focus of infection for vertebral osteomyelitis, and, however, vertebral osteomyelitis could be a serious, albeit rare, complication of diabetic foot.

  • Clinicians should keep in mind the many potential complications of diabetic foot ulcerations and consider vertebral osteomyelitis as a “possible” diagnosis in patients with type 2 diabetes and foot ulcers associated with nonspecific symptoms such as lower back pain.

  • Early diagnosis and correct management of vertebral osteomyelitis are crucial to improve clinical outcomes.

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.