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Rayan Chami, Rodrigo Moreno-Reyes and Bernard Corvilain

Objective

Based on the assumption that normal TSH concentration rules out the presence of autonomous functioning thyroid nodules (AFTNs), clinical guidelines on the management of thyroid nodules only recommend a thyroid scan if TSH concentration is subnormal. However, the proportion of AFTN presenting with a normal TSH is unknown. Our objective is therefore to determine the proportion of AFTNs with a normal TSH level to ascertain whether a normal TSH really rules out an AFTN.

Design

Retrospective study on 368 patients with an AFTN.

Methods

Thyroid scans with a diagnosis of AFTN were reviewed retrospectively by one of us (R Moreno-Reyes), blinded to the clinical data. The diagnosis of solitary AFTN was confirmed in 368 patients. Among them, we selected 217 patients based on the absence of another thyroid nodule >10 mm, the absence of medical conditions able to interfere with thyroid function, and the completeness of the data.

Results

The proportion of AFTNs with normal TSH was 49%. This proportion increased to 71% in patients for whom thyroid scan was performed in the workup of a thyroid nodule.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that serum TSH is not an effective screening tool to diagnose AFTNs. Using ‘TSH-only’ screening, as recommended by the majority of guidelines, the diagnosis of AFTN would have been missed in 71% of our patients in the workup of a thyroid nodule. Thyroid scan remains the gold standard for detecting AFTN and should be considered before performing fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), as the reliability of FNAC in an unsuspected AFTN remains unclear.

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Stefan M Constantinescu, Natacha Driessens, Aurélie Lefebvre, Raluca M Furnica, Bernard Corvilain and Dominique Maiter

Introduction

Intravenous etomidate infusion is effective to rapidly lower cortisol levels in severe Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in the intensive care unit (ICU). Recently, etomidate treatment has also been proposed at lower doses in non-ICU wards, but it is not yet clear how this approach compares to ICU treatment.

Methods

We compared data from patients with severe CS treated with high starting doses of etomidate (median: 0.30 mg/kg BW/day) in ICU or with lower starting doses (median: 0.025 mg/kg BW/day) in non-ICU medical wards.

Results

Fourteen patients were included, among which ten were treated with low starting doses (LD) and four with high starting doses etomidate (HD). All patients had severe and complicated CS related to adrenal carcinoma (n = 8) or ectopic ACTH secretion (n = 6). Etomidate was effective in reducing cortisol levels below 500 nmol/L in a median of 1 day in the HD group compared to 3 days in the LD group (P = 0.013). However, all patients of the HD group had etomidate-induced cortisol insufficiency and needed frequent monitoring, while no patient from the LD group required hydrocortisone supplementation. No patient in either group died from complications of CS or etomidate treatment, but final outcome was poor as six patients in the LD group and all four patients in the HD group died from their cancer during follow-up.

Conclusion

Our study suggests that, for patients with severe CS who do not require intensive organ-supporting therapy, the use of very low doses of etomidate in medical wards should be considered.

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Johan Verhelst, Brigitte Velkeniers, Dominique Maiter, Patrick Haentjens, Guy T'Sjoen, Ernst Rietzschel, Bernard Corvilain, Pascale Abrams, Frank Nobels, Roger Abs and Marie Bex

Objective

Patients with active acromegaly have an increased prevalence of cardiomyopathy and heart failure but a less than expected risk of coronary artery disease, considering the frequent association of diabetes mellitus and hypertension. We examined whether changes in high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) might contribute to this phenomenon.

Design and methods

Two hundred patients of the Belgian acromegaly registry (AcroBel) were divided in two groups: active disease (IGF1 Z-score >2; n=95) and controlled disease (IGF1 Z-score ≤2; n=105). Serum levels of hs-CRP and NT-proBNP were measured and correlated with BMI, blood pressure, fasting lipids, fasting glucose and insulin, HbA1c, IGF1, interleukin 6 (IL6), adiponectin, and sE-selectin. In a subset of acromegaly patients, hs-CRP, IL6, and NT-proBNP levels were also compared with those/the values of an age-, gender-, and BMI-matched reference group.

Results

Patients with active acromegaly had significantly lower levels of hs-CRP (median (interquartile range), 0.5 mg/l (0.1, 0.9) vs 1.3 mg/l (0.5, 4.1); P<0.001) and NT-proBNP, (47.0 ng/l (26.0, 86.0) vs 71.0 ng/l (43.0, 184.0); P<0.001) compared with patients with controlled acromegaly. Compared with the reference population, hs-CRP was not different in controlled acromegaly but significantly lower in active acromegaly (median, 0.4 mg/l (0.1, 0.8) vs 1.4 mg/l (0.8, 2.9); P<0.001), while NT-proBNP was similar in active acromegaly but significantly higher in controlled acromegaly (66.5 ng/l (40.0, 119.5) vs 50.8 ng/l (26.5, 79.7); P<0.001).

Conclusions

Patients with active acromegaly have significantly lower values of NT-proBNP and hs-CRP compared with patients with controlled disease and even lower values of hs-CRP compared with control subjects.

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France Devuyst, Paraskevi Kazakou, Danielle Balériaux, Orsalia Alexopoulou, Agnès Burniat, Sylvie Salenave, Philippe Chanson, Bernard Corvilain and Dominique Maiter

Context

Association of central diabetes insipidus (CDI) and pituitary stalk thickening (PST) may have several etiologies (including malignancies) and differential diagnosis remains often difficult.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to identify which clinical, biochemical or radiological features could help clinicians to make an etiological diagnosis, especially distinguishing neoplastic from non-neoplastic pituitary stalk lesions.

Design and methods

We retrospectively analyzed clinical, biochemical, radiological and histological data of 38 adult patients diagnosed with CDI and PST of proven etiology.

Results

Of the 38 pituitary stalk lesions included, 11 (29%) were neoplastic. A histopathological diagnosis was obtained in 22/38 (58%) patients. The three most frequently observed etiologies of PST were neuroinfundibulitis (34%), germinoma (21%) and histiocytosis (18%). Pituitary stalk thickness was larger for neoplastic lesions, particularly germinomas. Male gender and a very young age were statistically associated with a risk of germinoma. At least one anterior pituitary deficit was observed in nearly 60% of patients. Patients with neoplastic PST were more affected by multiple anterior pituitary dysfunction than patients with benign PST. A high serum prolactin level was individually the best predictor of a neoplastic origin (90% sensitivity and 60% specificity for a serum prolactin level 1.27-fold above the normal upper limit (ULN)).

Conclusion

We confirm a relatively high risk of malignancy in adult patients presenting with the association of CDI and PST. Young age, male gender, a very large thickening of the stalk, multiple anterior pituitary deficits and prolactin above 1.3× ULN increase the likelihood of a neoplastic origin.