Insulinomas are a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (HH) in children. The clinical features, investigations, management and histology of these rare pancreatic tumours in children have not been described in a large cohort of patients.
We conducted a retrospective review of cases diagnosed between 2000 and 2012, presenting to two referral centres in the United Kingdom. Clinical, biochemical, imaging (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 6-l-18F-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine (18F-DOPA) PET/CT scanning) and histological data were collected.
Nine children (age range 2–14.5 years) were diagnosed during the study period at Great Ormond Street Hospital (n=5) and Royal Manchester Children's Hospital (n=4). The combination of abdominal MRI scan (7/8) and 18F-DOPA PET/CT scan (2/4) correctly localised the anatomical location of all insulinomas. Before surgery, diazoxide therapy was used to treat hypoglycaemia, but only four patients responded. After surgical resection of the insulinoma, hypoglycaemia resolved in all patients. The anatomical localisation of the insulinoma in each patient was head (n=4), uncinate process (n=4) and tail (n=2, one second lesion) of the pancreas. Histology confirmed the diagnosis of insulinoma with the presence of sheets and trabeculae of epithelioid and spindle cells staining strongly for insulin and proinsulin, but not for glucagon or somatostatin. Two children were positive for MEN1, one of whom had two separate insulinoma lesions within the pancreas.
We describe a cohort of paediatric insulinoma patients. Although rare, insulinomas should be included in the differential diagnosis of HH, even in very young children. In the absence of a single imaging modality in the preoperative period, localisation of the tumour is achieved by combining imaging techniques, both conventional and functional.