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V J Moyes, G Alusi, H I Sabin, J Evanson, D M Berney, K Kovacs, J P Monson, P N Plowman and W M Drake

A 64-year-old woman was previously treated for Cushing's disease with trans-sphenoidal surgery, external beam radiotherapy and bilateral adrenalectomy. Progression of an aggressive corticotroph adenoma was evident 3 years post-adrenalectomy; involvement of the clivus was treated with surgery and gamma knife radiosurgery. Tumour spread through the skull base, occiput and left ear with persistent facial pain and left ear discharge; progression continued despite second gamma knife treatment. ACTH levels peaked at 2472 and 2265 pmol/l pre- and post-hydrocortisone respectively. Treatment with temozolomide resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms, a reduction of plasma ACTH to 389 pmol/l and regression of tumour on magnetic resonance imaging scan after four cycles of treatment. We propose that temozolomide is an effective and well-tolerated therapeutic tool for the treatment of Nelson's syndrome and a useful addition to the range of therapies available to treat this condition.

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H L Storr, K I Alexandraki, L Martin, A M Isidori, G A Kaltsas, J P Monson, G M Besser, M Matson, J Evanson, F Afshar, I Sabin, M O Savage and A B Grossman

Objective

There are few published comparisons between paediatric and adult-onset Cushing's disease (CD). We compare the epidemiology, diagnostic features and cure rate by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) in these groups.

Design

Retrospective review of patient databases in a single university hospital centre.

Patients

Totally, 41 paediatric (mean age 12.3±3.5 years; range 5.7–17.8) and 183 adult (mean age 40±13 years; range 18.0–95.0) patients with CD were investigated.

Results

Paediatric CD was characterised by male (63%) and adult CD by a female predominance (79%, P<0.0001). There were small but significant differences in clinical presentation. Biochemical features of CD were comparable except the serum cortisol increase during a CRH test: mean change (105%, n=39) in paediatric and (54%, n=123) in adult subjects (P<0.0001). Macroadenomas were more common in adult (15%, 28/183) than in paediatric (2%, 1/41, P=0.04) CD. Corticotroph microadenomas were more easily visualised by pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adult (76%, 50/66) compared with paediatric (55%, 21/38, P=0.045) CD with poorer concordance of imaging with surgical findings in children (P=0.058). The incidence of ACTH lateralisation by bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling was comparable in paediatric (76%, 25/33) and adult (79%, 46/58; P=0.95) patients with good surgical concordance in both (82% paediatric and 79% adult). Cure rates by TSS were comparable, with a paediatric cure rate of 69%.

Conclusion

Several features of paediatric CD are distinct: increased frequency of prepubertal CD in males, the different clinical presentation, the decreased presence of macroadenomas and the frequent absence of radiological evidence of an adenoma on MRI.

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Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Andrea M Isidori, Helen L Storr, Farhad Afshar, Ian Sabin, Scott A Akker, Shern L Chew, William M Drake, John P Monson, G Michael Besser and Ashley B Grossman

Objective

To investigate the early and late outcomes of patients with Cushing's disease (CD) submitted to a neurosurgical procedure as first-line treatment.

Design

In this single-centre retrospective case notes study, 131 patients with CD with a minimum follow-up period of 6 years (124 operated by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) and seven by the transcranial approach) were studied. Apparent immediate cure: post-operative 0900 h serum cortisol level <50 nmol/l; remission: cortisol insufficiency or restoration of ‘normal’ cortisol levels with resolution of clinical features; and recurrence: dexamethasone resistance and relapse of hypercortisolaemic features.

Results

In patients operated by TSS, remission of hypercortisolaemia was found in 72.8% of 103 microadenomas and 42.9% of 21 macroadenomas, with recurrence rates 22.7 and 33.3% respectively with a 15-year mean follow-up (range, 6–29 years). Of 27 patients with microadenomas operated after 1991, with positive imaging and pathology, 93% obtained remission with 12% recurrence. In multivariate analysis, the time needed to achieve recovery of hypothalamo-pituitary–adrenal axis was the only significant predictor of recurrence; all patients who recurred showed recovery within 3 years from surgery: 31.3% of patients had total hypophysectomy with no recurrence; 42% of patients with selective adenomectomy and 26.5% with hemi–hypophysectomy showed recurrence rates of 31 and 13% respectively (χ 2=6.275, P=0.03). Strict remission criteria were not superior in terms of the probability of recurrence compared with post-operative normocortisolaemia.

Conclusions

Lifelong follow-up for patients with CD appears essential, particularly for patients who have shown rapid recovery of their axis. The strict criteria previously used for ‘apparent cure’ do not appear to necessarily predict a lower recurrence rate.