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Free access

Emilia Sbardella, Robin N Joseph, Bahram Jafar-Mohammadi, Andrea M Isidori, Simon Cudlip and Ashley B Grossman

Context

Disease processes that affect the pituitary stalk are broad; the diagnosis and management of these lesions remains unclear.

Objective

The aim was to assess the clinical, biochemical and histopathological characteristics of pituitary stalk lesions and their association with specific MRI features in order to provide diagnostic and prognostic guidance.

Design and methods

Retrospective observational study of 36 patients (mean age 37years, range: 4–83) with pituitary stalk thickening evaluated at a university hospital in Oxford, UK, 2007–2015. We reviewed morphology, signal intensity, enhancement and texture appearance at MRI (evaluated with the ImageJ programme), along with clinical, biochemical, histopathological and long-term follow-up data.

Results

Diagnosis was considered certain for 22 patients: 46% neoplastic, 32% inflammatory and 22% congenital lesions. In the remaining 14 patients, a diagnosis of a non-neoplastic disorder was assumed on the basis of long-term follow-up (mean 41.3months, range: 12–84). Diabetes insipidus and headache were common features in 47 and 42% at presentation, with secondary hypogonadism the most frequent anterior pituitary defect. Neoplasia was suggested on size criteria or progression with 30% sensitivity. However, textural analysis of MRI scans revealed a significant correlation between the tumour pathology and pituitary stalk heterogeneity in pre- and post-gadolinium T1-weighted images (sensitivity: 88.9%, specificity: 91.7%).

Conclusions

New techniques of MRI imaging analysis may identify clinically significant neoplastic lesions, thus directing future therapy. We propose possible textural heterogeneity criteria of the pituitary stalk on pre- and post-gadolinium T1 images with the aim of differentiating between neoplastic and non-neoplastic lesions with a high degree of accuracy.

Free access

Andrea M Isidori, Marianna Minnetti, Emilia Sbardella, Chiara Graziadio and Ashley B Grossman

Glucocorticoids (GCs) target several components of the integrated system that preserves vascular integrity and free blood flow. Cohort studies on Cushing's syndrome (CS) have revealed increased thromboembolism, but the pathogenesis remains unclear. Lessons from epidemiological data and post-treatment normalisation time suggest a bimodal action with a rapid and reversible effect on coagulation factors and an indirect sustained effect on the vessel wall. The redundancy of the steps that are potentially involved requires a systematic comparison of data from patients with endogenous or exogenous hypercortisolism in the context of either inflammatory or non-inflammatory disorders. A predominant alteration in the intrinsic pathway that includes a remarkable rise in factor VIII and von Willebrand factor (vWF) levels and a reduction in activated partial thromboplastin time appears in the majority of studies on endogenous CS. There may also be a rise in platelets, thromboxane B2, thrombin–antithrombin complexes and fibrinogen (FBG) levels and, above all, impaired fibrinolytic capacity. The increased activation of coagulation inhibitors seems to be compensatory in order to counteract disseminated coagulation, but there remains a net change towards an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Conversely, GC administered in the presence of inflammation lowers vWF and FBG, but fibrinolytic activity is also reduced. As a result, the overall risk of VTE is increased in long-term users. Finally, no studies have assessed haemostatic abnormalities in patients with Addison's disease, although these may present as a consequence of bilateral adrenal haemorrhage, especially in the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies or anticoagulant treatments. The present review aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the complex alterations produced by GCs in order to develop better screening and prevention strategies against bleeding and thrombosis.

Free access

Emilia Sbardella, Carlotta Pozza, Andrea M Isidori and Ashley B Grossman

Introduction

The transition age is the period between childhood to adulthood; it refers to a broad set of physical, cognitive and sociocultural modifications, arbitrarily defined as starting in late puberty and ending with full adult maturation. Pituitary disorders in adolescence represent a challenge that requires careful management during the transition to adult care.

Methods

Given the complexity of care of pituitary disorders in the transition age, we have reviewed the relevant medical literature focusing on aetiology, clinical manifestations, treatment strategies of GH deficiency (GHD), hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (HH) in male and female adolescents, central hypothyroidism (CH), central adrenal insufficiency (CAI) and cranial diabetes insipidus (CDI) at this time. The objective of the present review is to provide an up-to-date evaluation of the transition period to evaluate the specific needs of adolescents with chronic pituitary disease in order to optimise their management.

Results

We provide an overview of current clinical management of GHD, HH, CH, CAI and CDI in the transition age.

Conclusions

Specific changes occur in pituitary function during the transition period. A holistic approach including discussion of patients’ concerns and emotional support should constitute a key component of managing pituitary disorders in adolescence. Special transition clinics where paediatric and adult endocrinologists work together, should be increasingly created and strengthened to bridge care, to promote continuity and adherence to treatment and to limit potential negative development, metabolic, skeletal and cardiovascular sequelae of discontinuity of care among adolescents with pituitary disorders.

Open access

Emilia Sbardella, Marianna Minnetti, Denise D’Aluisio, Laura Rizza, Maria Rosaria Di Giorgio, Fabio Vinci, Riccardo Pofi, Elisa Giannetta, Mary Anna Venneri, Annarita Vestri, Sergio Morelli, Andrea Lenzi and Andrea M Isidori

Background

Low-grade incomplete post-dexamethasone cortisol suppression in patients with adrenal incidentalomas – recently defined as possible autonomous cortisol secretion (pACS) – has been associated with increased cardiovascular events and mortality. However, prospective studies documenting cardiac abnormalities in these patients are lacking.

Subjects and methods

Between July 2016 and September 2017, 71 consecutive patients with adrenal lesions were prospectively screened for hypercortisolism by dexamethasone suppression test (NCT 02611258). Complete anthropometric, metabolic and hormonal parameters were recorded along with full cardiac ultrasound assessment and noninvasive measurement of arterial stiffness. All patients underwent chemical-shift magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the lesions. Cardiovascular outcomes were recorded in blind.

Results

According to post-dexamethasone suppression cortisol values (post-DST), 34 patients had pACS and 37 non-functioning adenomas (NFA). The two groups were similar in sex, BMI, age distribution, cardiovascular risk factors and comorbidities. Left ventricular mass index (LVMIBSA) was increased in pACS compared to NFA (P = 0.006) and mildly correlated to the post-DST cortisol level (rho = 0.347; P = 0.004). The post-DST cortisol levels explained up to 13.7% of LVMIBSA variance (P = 0.002). Compared to NFA, patients with pACS had a higher prevalence of diastolic dysfunction (35.1% vs 82.6%; P = 0.001) and worse arterial stiffness assessed by pulse wave velocity (P = 0.033).

Conclusions

In apparently asymptomatic patients, mild autonomous cortisol secretion can sustain early cardiac and vascular remodeling, independently of other risk factors. The morphological and functional cardiovascular changes observed in pACS underline the need for further studies to correctly define the long-term management of this relatively common condition.

Restricted access

Emilia Sbardella, Zoe Maunsell, Christine J H May, Michael Tadman, Tim James, Bahram Jafar-Mohammadi, Andrea M Isidori, Ashley B Grossman and Brian Shine

Background

In patients with phaeochromocytomas or paragangliomas (PPGLs), 24-h urine collections for metanephrines (uMNs) are cumbersome.

Objective

To evaluate the diagnostic utility of ratios to creatinine of ‘spot’ uMNs.

Methods

Concentrations of uMNs and plasma metanephrines (pMNs) were measured by HPLC-mass-spectrometry. We retrospectively compared correlations of 24-h-urine output and ratio to creatinine in historical specimens and prospectively assessed 24-h and contemporaneous spot urines and, where possible, pMNs. Using trimmed log-transformed values, we derived reference intervals based on age and sex for spot urines. We used multiples of upper limit of normal (ULNs) to compare areas under curves (AUCs) for receiver-operator characteristic curves of individual, and sum and product of, components.

Results

In 3143 24-h-urine specimens on 2416 patients, the correlation coefficients between the ratios and outputs of metanephrine, normetanephrine and 3-methoxytyramine in 24-h urines were 0.983, 0.905 and 0.875, respectively. In 96 patients, the correlations between plasma concentrations, urine output and ratios in spot specimens were similar to those for raw output or ratios in 24-h specimens. Of the 160 patients with PPGLs, the CIs for AUCs for individual metabolites overlapped for all four types of measurement, as did those for the sum of the multiple ULNs although these were slightly higher (AUC for spot urine: 0.838 (0.529–1), plasma: 0.929 (0.874–0.984) and output: 0.858 (0.764–0.952)).

Conclusions

Ratios of fractionated metanephrines to creatinine in spot urine samples appear to have a similar diagnostic power to other measurements. The ease of spot urine collection may facilitate diagnosis and follow-up of PPGLs through improved patient compliance.