An 11-year-old girl with past medical history of septic shock and multi-organ failure at age 5 presented to her primary care doctor with concern for pallor of the lips. Laboratory studies demonstrated low free thyroxine (T4) and normal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). A referral to endocrinology was made where the patient was evaluated, and laboratory evaluation was repeated. The patient was asymptomatic and clinically euthyroid with a height consistent with her mid-parental height and was in mid- to late-puberty. The repeated laboratory evaluation demonstrated a pattern suggestive of primary hypothyroidism with low free T4 and an elevated TSH. However, the magnitude of elevation of TSH was less than expected, given the degree of lowering of free T4; therefore, central hypothyroidism was considered. Workup was initiated, and laboratory studies and MRI imaging confirmed an underlying diagnosis of panhypopituitarism in the setting of pituitary stalk interruption syndrome.
Pituitary stalk interruption syndrome is a rare but important cause of panhypopituitarism.
Central hypothyroidism should be suspected in patients with low free thyroxine with an inappropriate degree of elevation of thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Workup of central hypothyroidism should include multi-pituitary hormone assessment, and, if evident, MRI imaging should be done.
Adrenal insufficiency should be suspected in a hypotensive, critically ill patient who is failing to improve on standard-of-care therapy.