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P F Plouin, L Amar, O M Dekkers, M Fassnacht, A P Gimenez-Roqueplo, J W M Lenders, C Lussey-Lepoutre, O Steichen, and on behalf of the Guideline Working Group

Phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are rare neuroendocrine tumours. Standard treatment is surgical resection. Following complete resection of the primary tumour, patients with PPGL are at risk of developing new tumoural events. The present guideline aims to propose standardised clinical care of long-term follow-up in patients operated on for a PPGL. The guideline has been developed by The European Society of Endocrinology and based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) principles. We performed a systematic review of the literature and analysed the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumours (ENS@T) database. The risk of new events persisted in the long term and was higher for patients with genetic or syndromic diseases. Follow-up in the published cohorts and in the ENS@T database was neither standardised nor exhaustive, resulting in a risk of follow-up bias and in low statistical power beyond 10 years after complete surgery. To inform patients and care providers in this context of low-quality evidence, the Guideline Working Group therefore prepared recommendations on the basis of expert consensus. Key recommendations are the following: we recommend that all patients with PPGL be considered for genetic testing; we recommend assaying plasma or urinary metanephrines every year to screen for local or metastatic recurrences or new tumours; and we suggest follow-up for at least 10 years in all patients operated on for a PPGL. High-risk patients (young patients and those with a genetic disease, a large tumour and/or a paraganglioma) should be offered lifelong annual follow-up.

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Antonio Sitges-Serra, Leyre Lorente, Germán Mateu, and Juan J Sancho

Since its introduction in the '70s and '80s, CND for papillary cancer is here to stay. Compartment VI should always be explored during surgery for papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) for obvious lymph node metastases. These can be easily spotted by an experienced surgeon or, eventually, by frozen section. No doubt, obvious nodal disease in the Delphian, paratracheal and subithsmic areas should be dissected in a comprehensive manner (therapeutic central neck dissection), avoiding the selective removal of suspicious nodes. Available evidence for routine prophylactic CND is not completely satisfactory. Our group's opinion, however, is that it reduces or even eliminates the need for repeat surgery in the central neck, better defines the extent (and stage) of the disease and provides a further argument against routine radioiodine ablation. Thus, PTC is becoming more and more a surgical disease that can be cured by optimized surgery alone in the majority of cases. Prophylactic CND, however, involves a higher risk for the parathyroid function and should be skilfully performed, preferably only on the same side as the primary tumour and preserving the cervical portion of the thymus.

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Dorte Glintborg and Marianne Andersen

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most prevalent endocrine condition in premenopausal women. The syndrome is characterized by hyperandrogenism, irregular menses and polycystic ovaries when other etiologies are excluded. Obesity, insulin resistance and low vitamin D levels are present in more than 50% patients with PCOS, these factors along with hyperandrogenism could have adverse effects on long-term health. Hyperinflammation and impaired epithelial function were reported to a larger extent in women with PCOS and could particularly be associated with hyperandrogenism, obesity and insulin resistance. Available data from register-based and data linkage studies support that metabolic-vascular and thyroid diseases, asthma, migraine, depression and cancer are diagnosed more frequently in PCOS, whereas fracture risk is decreased. Drug prescriptions are significantly more common in PCOS than controls within all diagnose categories including antibiotics. The causal relationship between PCOS and autoimmune disease represents an interesting new area of research. PCOS is a lifelong condition and long-term morbidity could be worsened by obesity, sedentary way of life, Western-style diet and smoking, whereas lifestyle intervention including weight loss may partly or fully resolve the symptoms of PCOS and could improve the long-term prognosis. In this review, the possible implications of increased morbidity for the clinical and biochemical evaluation of patients with PCOS at diagnosis and follow-up is further discussed along with possible modifying effects of medical treatment.

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Ernesto Canalis

Skeletal anabolic agents enhance bone formation, which is determined by the number and function of osteoblasts. Signals that influence the differentiation and function of cells of the osteoblast lineage play a role in the mechanism of action of anabolic agents in the skeleton. Wnts induce the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells toward osteoblasts, and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) enhances the function of mature osteoblasts. The activity of Wnt and IGF-I is controlled by proteins that bind to the growth factor or to its receptors. Sclerostin is a Wnt antagonist that binds to Wnt co-receptors and prevents Wnt signal activation. Teriparatide, a 1–34 amino terminal fragment of parathyroid hormone (PTH), and abaloparatide, a modified 1–34 amino terminal fragment of PTH-related peptide (PTHrp), induce IGF-I, increase bone mineral density (BMD), reduce the incidence of vertebral and non-vertebral fractures and are approved for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Romosozumab, a humanized anti-sclerostin antibody, increases bone formation, decreases bone resorption, increases BMD and reduces the incidence of vertebral fractures. An increased incidence of cardiovascular events has been associated with romosozumab, which is yet to be approved for the treatment of osteoporosis. In conclusion, cell and molecular studies have formed the foundation for the development of new anabolic therapies for osteoporosis with proven efficacy on the incidence of new fractures.

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Lucía Sanz-Salvador, Miguel Ángel García-Pérez, Juan J Tarín, and Antonio Cano

Changes in bone density and bone markers suggest that pregnancy is associated with deterioration of bone mass in the mother. The metabolism of calcium resets to allow for the needs imposed by the building of the fetal skeleton. The fetus contributes to the process through the output of regulators from the placenta. Understanding of the whole process is limited, but some changes are unambiguous. There is an increase in the circulating levels of vitamin D, but its functional impact is unclear. Fetal parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related peptide (PTHrp) play an indirect role through support of a calcium gradient that creates hypercalcemia in the fetus. Placental GH, which increases up to the end of pregnancy, may exert some anabolic effects, either directly or through the regulation of the IGF1 production. Other key regulators of bone metabolism, such as estrogens or prolactin, are elevated during pregnancy, but their role is uncertain. An increase in the ratio of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) to osteoprotegerin (OPG) acts as an additional pro-resorbing factor in bone. The increase in bone resorption may lead to osteoporosis and fragility fracture, which have been diagnosed, although rarely. However, the condition is transitory as long-term studies do not link the number of pregnancies with osteoporosis. Prevention is limited by the lack of identifiable risk factors. When fractures are diagnosed, rest, analgesics, or, when indicated, orthopedic intervention have demonstrated efficacy. Systemic treatment with anti-osteoporotic drugs is effective, but the potential harm to the fetus imposes caution in their use.

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Thierry Brue, Vincent Amodru, and Frederic Castinetti

With fewer than 200 reported cases, Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in pregnancy remains a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. In normal pregnancies, misleading signs may be observed such as striae or hypokalemia, while plasma cortisol and urinary free cortisol may rise up to 2- to 3-fold. While the dexamethasone suppression test is difficult to use, reference values for salivary cortisol appear valid. Apart from gestational hypertension, differential diagnosis includes pheochromocytoma and primary aldosteronism. The predominant cause is adrenal adenoma (sometimes without decreased ACTH), rather than Cushing’s disease. There are considerable imaging pitfalls in Cushing’s disease. Aberrant receptors may, in rare cases, lead to increased cortisol production during pregnancy in response to HCG, LHRH, glucagon, vasopressin or after a meal. Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is rare and has poor prognosis. Active CS during pregnancy is associated with a high rate of maternal complications: hypertension or preeclampsia, diabetes, fractures; more rarely, cardiac failure, psychiatric disorders, infection and maternal death. Increased fetal morbidity includes prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation and less prevalently stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, intrauterine death and hypoadrenalism. Therapy is also challenging. Milder cases can be managed conservatively by controlling comorbidities. Pituitary or adrenal surgery should ideally be performed during the second trimester and patients should then be treated for adrenal insufficiency. Experience with anticortisolic drugs is limited. Metyrapone was found to allow control of hypercortisolism, with a risk of worsening hypertension. Cabergoline may be an alternative option. The use of other drugs is not advised because of potential teratogenicity and/or lack of information. Non-hormonal (mechanical) contraception is recommended until sustained biological remission is obtained.

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Jens Bollerslev, Lars Rejnmark, Claudio Marcocci, Dolores M Shoback, Antonio Sitges-Serra, Wim van Biesen, and Olaf M Dekkers

Hypoparathyroidism (HypoPT) is a rare (orphan) endocrine disease with low calcium and inappropriately low (insufficient) circulating parathyroid hormone levels, most often in adults secondary to thyroid surgery. Standard treatment is activated vitamin D analogues and calcium supplementation and not replacement of the lacking hormone, as in other hormonal deficiency states. The purpose of this guideline is to provide clinicians with guidance on the treatment and monitoring of chronic HypoPT in adults who do not have end-stage renal disease. We intend to draft a practical guideline, focusing on operationalized recommendations deemed to be useful in the daily management of patients. This guideline was developed and solely sponsored by The European Society of Endocrinology, supported by CBO (Dutch Institute for Health Care Improvement) and based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) principles as a methodological base. The clinical question on which the systematic literature search was based and for which available evidence was synthesized was: what is the best treatment for adult patients with chronic HypoPT? This systematic search found 1100 articles, which was reduced to 312 based on title and abstract. The working group assessed these for eligibility in more detail, and 32 full-text articles were assessed. For the final recommendations, other literature was also taken into account. Little evidence is available on how best to treat HypoPT. Data on quality of life and the risk of complications have just started to emerge, and clinical trials on how to optimize therapy are essentially non-existent. Most studies are of limited sample size, hampering firm conclusions. No studies are available relating target calcium levels with clinically relevant endpoints. Hence it is not possible to formulate recommendations based on strict evidence. This guideline is therefore mainly based on how patients are managed in clinical practice, as reported in small case series and based on the experiences of the authors.

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Irene Campi, Guia Vannucchi, and Mario Salvi

Management of Graves’ orbitopathy (GO) must be based on the correct assessment of activity and severity of the disease. Activity is usually assessed with the Clinical Activity Score, whereas severity is classified according to a European Group On Graves' Orbitopathy (EUGOGO) consensus statement as mild, moderate-to-severe, and sight-threatening. Myopathic and chronic congestive forms are uncommon clinical presentations of GO. Restoration and maintenance of stable euthyroidism are recommended in the presence of GO.

In moderate-to-severe disease, steroids have been widely employed and have shown to possess an anti-inflammatory activity, but about 20–30% of patients are not responsive and present recurrence. Some novel immunosuppressors have already been employed in clinical studies and have shown interesting results, although the lack of randomized and controlled trials suggests caution for their use in clinical practice. Potential targets for therapy in GO are the thyroid-stimulating hormone and the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor on the fibroblasts, inflammatory cytokines, B and T cells, and the PIK3/mTORC1 signaling cascades for adipogenesis. A recent open study has shown that tocilizumab, an anti-sIL-6R antibody, inactivates GO. Consistent reports on the efficacy of rituximab have recently been challenged by randomized controlled trials.

As the main goal of treatment is the well-being of the patient, the therapeutic strategy should be addressed to better suit the patient needs, more than improving one or more biological parameters. The increasing availability of new therapies will expand the therapeutic options for GO patients and allow the clinician to really personalize the treatment to better suit the patients’ personal needs.

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Georg Brabant, Robin P Peeters, Shiao Y Chan, Juan Bernal, Philippe Bouchard, Domenico Salvatore, Kristien Boelaert, and Peter Laurberg

Guideline advice of many societies on the management of subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy suggests treatment when TSH serum levels exceed 2.5 mU/l. Justification of this procedure is based on limited experience, mainly from studies carried out in patients with positive thyroid-specific antibodies and higher TSH levels that classically define the condition in the non-pregnant state. Taking into account a lack of clear understanding of the regulation of thyroid hormone transport through the utero-placental unit and in the absence of foetal markers to monitor the adequacy of thyroxine treatment, this review attempts to discuss currently available data and suggests a more cautious approach.

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Wilmar M Wiersinga

About 5%–10% of hypothyroid patients on T4 replacement therapy have persistent symptoms, despite normal TSH levels. It was hoped that T4 + T3 combination therapy might provide better outcomes, but that was not observed according to a meta-analysis of 11 randomized clinical trials comparing T4 monotherapy with T4 + T3 combination therapy. However, the issue is still subject of much research because normal thyroid function tests in serum may not necessarily indicate an euthyroid state in all peripheral tissues. This review evaluates recent developments in the field of T4 + T3 combination therapy. T4 monotherapy is associated with higher serum FT4 levels than in healthy subjects, and subnormal serum FT3 and FT3/FT4 ratios are observed in about 15% and 30% respectively. T4 + T3 combination therapy may mimic more closely thyroid function tests of healthy subjects, but it has not been demonstrated that relatively low serum FT3 or FT3/FT4 ratios are linked to persistent symptoms. One study reports polymorphism Thr92Ala in DIO2 is related to lower serum FT3 levels after thyroidectomy, and that the D2-Ala mutant reduces T4 to T3 conversion in cell cultures. Peripheral tissue function tests such as serum cholesterol reflect thyroid hormone action in target tissues. Using such biochemical markers, patients who had a normal serum TSH during postoperative T4 monotherapy, were mildly hypothyroid, whereas those with a TSH 0.03–≤0.3 mU/L were closest to euthyroidism. Peripheral tissue function tests suggest euthyroidism more often in patients randomized to T4 + T3 rather than that to T4. Preference for T4 + T3 combination over T4 monotherapy was dose-dependently related to the presence of two polymorphisms in MCT10 and DIO2 in one small study. It is not known if persistent symptoms during T4 monotherapy disappear by switching to T4 + T3 combination therapy. The number of patients on T4 + T3 therapy has multiplied in the last decade, likely induced by indiscriminate statements on the internet. Patients are sometimes not just asking but rather demanding this treatment modality. It creates tensions between patients and physicians. Only continued research will answer the question whether or not T4 + T3 combination therapy has true benefits in some patients.