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Open access

Manas Ghosh, Ambarish Bhattacharya, Kaushik Ghosh, Atri Chatterjee, Sisir Chakraborty and Sanat Kumar Jatua

Summary

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive devastating neurodegenerative disease, which universally progresses towards death. Hence, every attempt should be made to find out if there are any treatable conditions, which can mimic MND. Herein, we describe a case of hypercalcaemia due to primary hyperparathyroidism confused as MND and subsequently cured with parathyroid surgery.

Learning points

  • Any patient with neurological disorder should have a screening of all the common electrolytes including calcium as electrolyte imbalance can present with paralysis (e.g. hypokalaemia) to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (e.g. hypercalcaemia).
  • No patient should be stamped as having MND without having a proper work-up of all its differentials as there might be a treatable condition masquerading as MND.

Open access

Adriana de Sousa Lages, Isabel Paiva, Patrícia Oliveira, Francisco Portela and Francisco Carrilho

Summary

Insulinomas are the most frequent cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. Although surgical enucleation is the standard treatment, a few other options are available to high-risk patients who are elderly or present with co-morbidities. We present a case report of an 89-year-old female patient who was admitted to the emergency department due to recurrent hypoglycaemia, especially during fasting. Laboratory work-up raised the suspicion of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, and abdominal CT scan revealed a 12 mm nodular hypervascular lesion of the pancreatic body suggestive of neuroendocrine tumour. The patient was not considered a suitable candidate for surgery, and medical therapy with diazoxide was poorly tolerated. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided ethanol ablation therapy was performed and a total of 0.6 mL of 95% ethanol was injected into the lesion by a transgastric approach; no complications were reported after the procedure. At 5 months of follow-up, no episodes of hypoglycaemia were reported, no diazoxide therapy was necessary, and revaluation abdominal CT scan revealed a pancreatic nodular lesion with a size involution of about half of its original volume. The patient is regularly followed-up at the endocrinology clinic and shows a significant improvement in her wellbeing and quality of life.

Learning points:

  • Insulinomas are the most frequent cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia.
  • Surgical enucleation is the standard treatment with a few other options available to high-risk patients.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound-guided ethanol ablation therapy is one feasible option in high-risk patients with satisfactory clinical outcomes, significant positive impact on quality of life and low complication rates related to the procedure.
Open access

Jonathan Brown and Luqman Sardar

Summary

A 68-year-old previously independent woman presented multiple times to hospital over the course of 3 months with a history of intermittent weakness, vacant episodes, word finding difficulty and reduced cognition. She was initially diagnosed with a TIA, and later with a traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage following a fall; however, despite resolution of the haemorrhage, symptoms were ongoing and continued to worsen. Confusion screen blood tests showed no cause for the ongoing symptoms. More specialised investigations, such as brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, electroencephalogram and serology also gave no clear diagnosis. The patient had a background of hypothyroidism, with plasma thyroid function tests throughout showing normal free thyroxine and a mildly raised thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). However plasma anti-thyroid peroxidise (TPO) antibody titres were very high. After discussion with specialists, it was felt she may have a rare and poorly understood condition known as Hashimoto’s encephalopathy (HE). After a trial with steroids, her symptoms dramatically improved and she was able to live independently again, something which would have been impossible at presentation.

Learning points:

  • In cases of subacute onset confusion where most other diagnoses have already been excluded, testing for anti-thyroid antibodies can identify patients potentially suffering from HE.
  • In these patients, and under the guidance of specialists, a trial of steroids can dramatically improve patient’s symptoms.
  • The majority of patients are euthyroid at the time of presentation, and so normal thyroid function tests should not prevent anti-thyroid antibodies being tested for.
  • Due to high titres of anti-thyroid antibodies being found in a small percentage of the healthy population, HE should be treated as a diagnosis of exclusion, particularly as treatment with steroids may potentially worsen the outcome in other causes of confusion, such as infection.
Open access

M A W Hermans, B M L Stelten, H R Haak, W W de Herder and M W Dercksen

Summary

This paper reports on two patients with a long-standing diagnosis of an ENETS stage IV neuroendocrine tumour (NET) of the small intestine who developed neurological symptoms. The first patient only had bulbar symptoms and tested positive for acetylcholine receptor antibodies. The second patient had more classical symptoms of fatigable diplopia and muscle weakness of the legs, but no detectable antibodies. The diagnosis of paraneoplastical myasthenia gravis (MG) was postulated. Both patients were treated with pyridostigmine for MG and octreotide for the NETs. Interestingly, treatment of the NETs resulted in improvement of myasthenic symptoms. Paraneoplastic MG has been described to occur with certain malignancies, mainly thymoma. Herein, we prove that the association with gastrointestinal NETs, however, rare, is also one to be considered by clinicians dealing with either of these diseases. The pathogenesis has yet to be elucidated.

Learning points

  • NETs are rare malignancies with a wide variety of symptoms.
  • Paraneoplastic MG can occur with various types of malignancies.
  • Herein, we provide evidence of paraneoplastic MG in association with a grade IV NET of the small intestine.
  • Treatment of the NETs resulted in remission of myasthenic symptoms in one patient.

Open access

A Tabasum, C Shute, D Datta and L George

Summary

Hypokalaemia may present as muscle cramps and Cardiac arrhythmias. This is a condition commonly encountered by endocrinologists and general physicians alike. Herein, we report the case of a 43-year-old gentleman admitted with hypokalaemia, who following subsequent investigations was found to have Gitelman's syndrome (GS). This rare, inherited, autosomal recessive renal tubular disorder is associated with genetic mutations in the thiazide-sensitive sodium chloride co-transporter and magnesium channels in the distal convoluted tubule. Patients with GS typically presents at an older age, and a spectrum of clinical presentations exists, from being asymptomatic to predominant muscular symptoms. Clinical suspicion should be raised in those with hypokalaemic metabolic alkalosis associated with hypomagnesaemia. Treatment of GS consists of long-term potassium and magnesium salt replacement. In general, the long-term prognosis in terms of preserved renal function and life expectancy is excellent. Herein, we discuss the biochemical imbalance in the aetiology of GS, and the case report highlights the need for further investigations in patients with recurrent hypokalaemic episodes.

Learning points

  • Recurrent hypokalaemia with no obvious cause warrants investigation for hereditary renal tubulopathies.
  • GS is the most common inherited renal tubulopathy with a prevalence of 25 per million people.
  • GS typically presents at an older age and clinical suspicion should be raised in those with hypokalaemic metabolic alkalosis associated with hypomagnesaemia.
  • Confirmation of diagnosis is by molecular analysis for mutation in the SLC12A3 gene.

Open access

Harish Venugopal, Katherine Griffin and Saima Amer

Summary

Resection of primary tumour is the management of choice in patients with ectopic ACTH syndrome. However, tumours may remain unidentified or occult in spite of extensive efforts at trying to locate them. This can, therefore, pose a major management issue as uncontrolled hypercortisolaemia can lead to life-threatening infections. We present the case of a 66-year-old gentleman with ectopic ACTH syndrome from an occult primary tumour with multiple significant complications from hypercortisolaemia. Ectopic nature of his ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome was confirmed by non-suppression with high-dose dexamethasone suppression test and bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling. The primary ectopic source remained unidentified in spite of extensive anatomical and functional imaging studies, including CT scans and Dotatate-PET scan. Medical adrenolytic treatment at maximum tolerated doses failed to control his hypercortisolaemia, which led to recurrent intra-abdominal and pelvic abscesses, requiring multiple surgical interventions. Laparoscopic bilateral adrenalectomy was considered but decided against given concerns of technical difficulties due to recurrent intra-abdominal infections and his moribund state. Eventually, alcohol ablation of adrenal glands by retrograde adrenal vein approach was attempted, which resulted in biochemical remission of Cushing's syndrome. Our case emphasizes the importance of aggressive management of hypercortisolaemia in order to reduce the associated morbidity and mortality and also demonstrates that techniques like percutaneous adrenal ablation using a retrograde venous approach may be extremely helpful in patients who are otherwise unable to undergo bilateral adrenalectomy.

Learning points

  • Evaluation and management of patients with ectopic ACTH syndrome from an unidentified primary tumour can be very challenging.
  • Persisting hypercortisolaemia in this setting can lead to debilitating and even life-threatening complications and hence needs to be managed aggressively.
  • Bilateral adrenalectomy should be considered when medical treatment is ineffective or poorly tolerated.
  • Percutaneous adrenal ablation may be considered in patients who are otherwise unable to undergo bilateral adrenalectomy.

Open access

Shinobu Takayasu, Shingo Murasawa, Satoshi Yamagata, Kazunori Kageyama, Takeshi Nigawara, Yutaka Watanuki, Daisuke Kimura, Takao Tsushima, Yoshiyuki Sakamoto, Kenichi Hakamada, Ken Terui and Makoto Daimon

Summary

Patients with Cushing’s syndrome and excess exogenous glucocorticoids have an increased risk for venous thromboembolism, as well as arterial thrombi. The patients are at high risk of thromboembolic events, especially during active disease and even in cases of remission and after surgery in Cushing’s syndrome and withdrawal state in glucocorticoid users. We present a case of Cushing’s syndrome caused by adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting lung carcinoid tumor. Our patient developed acute mesenteric ischemia after video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery despite administration of sufficient glucocorticoid and thromboprophylaxis in the perioperative period. In addition, our patient developed hepatic infarction after surgical resection of the intestine. Then, the patient was supported by total parenteral nutrition. Our case report highlights the risk of microthrombi, which occurred in our patient after treatment of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome. Guidelines on thromboprophylaxis and/or antiplatelet therapy for Cushing’s syndrome are acutely needed.

Learning points:

  • The present case showed acute mesenteric thromboembolism and hepatic infarction after treatment of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Patients with Cushing’s syndrome are at increased risk for thromboembolic events and increased morbidity and mortality.
  • An increase in thromboembolic risk has been observed during active disease, even in cases of remission and postoperatively in Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Thromboprophylaxis and antiplatelet therapy should be considered in treatment of glucocorticoid excess or glucocorticoid withdrawal.
Open access

Julien Ducry, Fulgencio Gomez, John O Prior, Ariane Boubaker, Maurice Matter, Matteo Monti, Yan Pu, Nelly Pitteloud and Luc Portmann

Summary

Ectopic ACTH Cushing's syndrome (EAS) is often caused by neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of lungs, pancreas, thymus, and other less frequent locations. Localizing the source of ACTH can be challenging. A 64-year-old man presented with rapidly progressing fatigue, muscular weakness, and dyspnea. He was in poor condition and showed facial redness, proximal amyotrophy, and bruises. Laboratory disclosed hypokalemia, metabolic alkalosis, and markedly elevated ACTH and cortisol levels. Pituitary was normal on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bilateral inferior petrosal sinus blood sampling with corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation showed no significant central-to-periphery gradient of ACTH. Head and neck, thoracic and abdominal computerized tomography (CT), MRI, somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SSRS), and 18F-deoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) failed to identify the primary tumor. 18F-dihydroxyphenylalanine (F-DOPA)-PET/CT unveiled a 20-mm nodule in the jejunum and a metastatic lymph node. Segmental jejunum resection showed two adjacent NETs, measuring 2.0 and 0.5 cm with a peritoneal metastasis. The largest tumor expressed ACTH in 30% of cells. Following surgery, after a transient adrenal insufficiency, ACTH and cortisol levels returned to normal values and remain normal over a follow-up of 26 months. Small mid-gut NETs are difficult to localize on CT or MRI, and require metabolic imaging. Owing to low mitotic activity, NETs are generally poor candidates for FDG-PET, whereas SSRS shows poor sensitivity in EAS due to intrinsically low tumor concentration of type-2 somatostatin receptors (SST2) or to receptor down regulation by excess cortisol. However, F-DOPA-PET, which is related to amine precursor uptake by NETs, has been reported to have high positive predictive value for occult EAS despite low sensitivity, and constitutes a useful alternative to more conventional methods of tumor localization.

Learning points

  • Uncontrolled high cortisol levels in EAS can be lethal if untreated.
  • Surgical excision is the keystone of NETs treatment, thus tumor localization is crucial.
  • Most cases of EAS are caused by NETs, which are located mainly in the lungs. However, small gut NETs are elusive to conventional imaging and require metabolic imaging for detection.
  • FDG-PET, based on tumor high metabolic rate, may not detect NETs that have low mitotic activity. SSRS may also fail, due to absent or low concentration of SST2, which may be down regulated by excess cortisol.
  • F-DOPA-PET, based on amine-precursor uptake, can be a useful method to localize the occult source of ACTH in EAS when other methods have failed.

Open access

Maria P Yavropoulou, Nikolina Gerothanasi, Athanasios Frydas, Evangelia Triantafyllou, Chris Poulios, Prodromos Hytiroglou, Panagiotis Apostolou, Ioannis Papasotiriou, Symeon Tournis, Isaak Kesisoglou and John G Yovos

Summary

Tumor-induced osteomalacia (TIO) is a rare paraneoplastic syndrome caused primarily by benign mesenchymal tumors. These tumors typically follow a benign clinical course and local recurrence occurs in <5% of cases. We investigated a 49-year-old man with a recurrent mesenchymal phosphaturic tumor showing no signs of malignancy. The patient suffered from chronic muscle weakness, myalgia and cramps. His medical record included the diagnosis of oncogenic osteomalacia, for which he was submitted to tumor resection in the left leg three times before. Laboratory examination showed hypophosphatemia, hyperphosphaturia and an elevated serum FGF23 level. A radical surgical approach (amputation) was advised, however, complete biochemical and clinical remission was not reached. Molecular analysis of the tumor cells demonstrated overexpression of growth factor receptors implicated in tumor angiogenesis and metastatic potential (platelet derived growth factor type A (PDGFRA), PDGFRB and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor) together with increased expression of FGF23, x-linked-phosphate-regulating endopeptidase and KLOTHO. TIO is usually associated with benign phosphauturic tumors and, when identified, resection of the tumor leads to complete remission in the majority of cases. The underlying pathophysiology of recurrences in these tumors is not known. This is the first report showing increased expression of growth factor receptors in a locally aggressive but histopathologically benign phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor.

Learning points

  • TIO is usually associated with benign soft tissue or bone neoplasms of mesenchymal origin.
  • These tumors typically follow a benign clinical course and even in the rare malignant cases local recurrence occurs in <5%.
  • Successful identification and removal of the tumor leads to full recovery in the majority of cases.

Open access

Apostolos K A Karagiannis, Fotini Dimitropoulou, Athanasios Papatheodorou, Stavroula Lyra, Andreas Seretis and Andromachi Vryonidou

Summary

Pituitary abscess is a rare life-threating entity that is usually misdiagnosed as a pituitary tumor with a definite diagnosis only made postoperatively. Over the last several decades, advances in healthcare have led to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality due to pituitary abscess. We report a case of a 34-year-old woman who was admitted to our department for investigation of a pituitary mass and with symptoms of pituitary dysfunction, headaches and impaired vision. During her admission, she developed meningitis-like symptoms and was treated with antibiotics. She eventually underwent transsphenoidal surgery for excision of the pituitary mass. A significant amount of pus was evident intraoperatively; however, no pathogen was isolated. Six months later, the patient was well and had full recovery of the anterior pituitary function. Her menses returned, and she was only on treatment with desmopressin for diabetes insipidus that developed postoperatively.

Learning points

  • Pituitary abscess is a rare disease and the reported clinical features vary mimicking other pituitary lesions.
  • The diagnosis of pituitary abscess is often very difficult to make and rarely included in the differential.
  • The histological findings of acute inflammatory infiltration confirm the diagnosis of pituitary abscess.
  • Medical and surgical treatment is usually recommended upon diagnosis of a pituitary abscess.