Case Report Shows Rare Adrenal Tumors Associated with Cushing’s Disease

Pituitary tumors that produce too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) have been associated with the development of rare tumors on the adrenal glands, called adrenal myelolipomas, for the first time in a case report.

The study, “Case report of a bilateral adrenal myelolipoma associated with Cushing disease,” was published in the journal Medicine.

Myelolipomas, composed of mature fat cells and blood-forming cells, are usually asymptomatic and do not produce hormones. In many cases, these tumors are detected by accident when patients undergo imaging scans for other conditions.

The cause of these tumors is unknown, but due to their benign nature, they do not spread to other parts of the body. However, they can grow up to 34 centimeters (about 13 inches), leading to tissue death and hemorrhage.

Researchers at Soon Chun Hyang University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, described the case of a 52-year-old man with myelolipoma possibly caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary tumor.

During a routine checkup, researchers detected a mass in the patient’s spleen. Further abdominal evaluations identified tissue lesions in both adrenal glands consistent with myelolipoma. Besides the masses, the patient did not show any other Cushing-associated physical characteristics.

However, the patient’s ACTH levels were two times higher than the normal upper limit. Cortisol levels were also increased and unresponsive to low-dose dexamethasone treatment.

No additional lesions were found that could help explain the high ACTH and cortisol levels. But analysis of blood samples collected from the veins draining the pituitary glands revealed the right gland was producing too much ACTH, strongly suggesting Cushing’s disease.

Both the left adrenal gland and pituitary tumor were surgically removed. The samples collected during surgery confirmed the benign nature of the adrenal tumors, and the diagnosis of abnormal, ACTH-positive pituitary gland tissue.

Three days after the surgeries, hormone levels were back to normal. But a follow-up evaluation five months later again showed increased ACTH levels. Cortisol levels, however, were normal.

For the next seven years, the patient was evaluated every six months. During a five-year period, the size of the right adrenal gland was found to have grown. Imaging analysis confirmed the existence of small, new lesions in both pituitary glands.

“This case confers valuable information about the clinical course of adrenal myelolipoma associated with Cushing disease,” the researchers said. It also “supports the notion that ACTH can be associated with the development of bilateral adrenal myelolipomas.”


Pituitary Dysfunction as a Result of Traumatic Brain Injury

A victim of brain injury can experience many consequences and complications as a result of brain damage. Unfortunately, the problems caused by a traumatic brain injury can extend even beyond what most people think of as the standard symptoms of a brain injury, like mood change and cognitive impairment. One issue which can occur is pituitary dysfunction. If the pituitary gland is damaged due to injury to the brain, the consequences can be dramatic as the pituitary gland works together with the hypothalamus to control every hormonal aspect of a person’s body.

Pituitary dysfunction as a result of a brain injury can be difficult to diagnose, as you may not immediately connect your symptoms to the head injury you experienced. If you did suffer injury to the pituitary gland, you need to know about it so you can get proper treatment. If someone else caused your brain injury to occur, you also want to know about your pituitary dysfunction so you can receive compensation for costs and losses associated with this serious health problem.

The pituitary is a small area of the center of your brain that is about the size of the uvula. The pituitary is surrounded and guarded by bone, but it does hang down.  When it becomes damaged as a result of a brain injury, the damage normally occurs as a result of the fact the pituitary was affected by reduced by reduced blood flow. It can also be harmed directly from the trauma, and only a tiny amount of damage can cause profound consequences.

Many of the important hormones that your body needs are controlled by the pituitary working with the hypothalamus. If the pituitary is damaged, the result can include a deficiency of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This deficiency can affect your heart and can impact bone development.  Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) can also be affected, which could result in hypothyroidism. Sex hormones (gonodotropin); Adrenocorticotopic hormone; and many other hormones could be impacted as well, causing fertility problems; muscle loss; sexual dysfunction; kidney problems; fatigue; or even death.

Unfortunately, problems with the pituitary gland may not always be visible on MRIs or other imaging tests because the pituitary is so small. Endocrinologists who handle hormone therapy frequently are not familiar with brain injuries, and may not make the connection that your brain injury was the cause of the problem.

If you begin to experience hormonal issues following an accident, you should be certain to get an accurate diagnosis to determine if your brain injury played a role. If it did, those responsible for causing the accident could be responsible for compensating you for the harm you have experienced to your pituitary and to the body systems which malfunction as a result of your new hormonal issues.

Nelson Blair Langer Engle, PLLC


Day 21, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2016

Since I’m posting this on April 21, I had a built-in topic.

The image above is from our first local meeting, here in Northern VA – note the 6 Cushing St. sign behind us.  Natalie was the Cushie in the middle.

Today is the anniversary of Natalie’s death.  Last month was the anniversary of Sue’s death. I wrote about Janice earlier.

It’s just not right that this disease has been known for so many years, yet doctors still drag their feet diagnosing it and getting people into remission.

Why is it that we have to suffer so much, so long, and still there are so many deaths from Cushing’s or related to Cushing’s symptoms?

I know far too many people, good people, who suffered for many years from this disease that doctors said they didn’t have.  Then they died.  It’s time this stopped!

Speaking of death – what a cheery blog post this is turning out to be.  NOT!  Unfortunately, this seems to be one of the realities of Cushing’s.  Just last week we learned of another Cushie who died. 😦


Tomorrow will be cheerier – watch for it!

Hospital Staff Didn’t Give Emergency Cortisol to Teenager with Complex Special Needs



A TEENAGER with complex special needs who died in hospital suffered a failure in basic medical communication, an inquest heard today.

Robin Brett, 18, of Blackmore Close, died in June 2014 in the Great Western Hospital after being admitted with chronic constipation and vomiting.

After a blood test indicated a raised white blood cell count, Robin went into cardiac arrest and died.

He had congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) a metabolic disease and genetic defect of the adrenal gland and learning difficulties. He required daily care and medications.

Robin’s parents listed a string of errors they believe contributed to his death including failure to give him his regular medications, infrequent observations and the lack of regular and vital cortisol injections.

His heartbroken mother, Teresa, told the inquest in Salisbury that she had told hospital staff to give Robin an emergency dose of cortisol, which was not topped up after the recommended four hours.

She said: “I asked them to give him cortisol after I noticed he was becoming clammy and had a headache which is a sign of adrenal distress, I was just about to with the syringe in my hand when it was done and he instantly perked up.

 “But this wasn’t done again after four hours and I don’t know why.”

GWH staff nurse Hannah Porte who cared for Robin on his admission said she had concerns about his “alarmingly” high pulse rate when she did observations.

“I spoke with a doctor who assured me that because he had a pre-existing condition it wasn’t of great concern. That is our protocol and I felt comforted and reassured when they said that,” she said.

Robin was described as “rocking backwards and forwards and retching “ shortly before his cardiac arrest.

Mum Teresa broke down as she recalled her “sociable and friendly” son’s decline.

“He asked me to turn his DVD player off which was out of character in itself and he was clammy. All of a sudden he wasn’t breathing,” she said,

Registrar Fahreyer Alam, who examined Robin upon admission, said he could not provide an explanation as to why steroidal drugs were prescribed but not administered to Robin.

“They was nothing about his condition on examination which would link to adrenal crisis,” he said,

“The drugs were written on the drug chart and I cannot say why they were not given to him.”

Dr Alam said he had set an observation schedule of every two hours which he had articulated to nurses, and was not observed.

“All I can is there is an element of trust in the nurses and in a busy department we do have to relay things verbally and that is what you do,” he said.

When questioned by assistant coroner Dr Claire Balysz, Dr Alam said the effect of the seven week constipation may have put pressure on Robin’s vital organs.

“His heart and lungs were smaller than average and slightly underdeveloped. The faecal impaction made his colon stretch, it may have impacted his lungs and his heart and that is something the post mortem found,” he said.

Dr Alam and nurse Porte agreed that more was being done within the trust to improve the accuracy and accessibility of patient records, including a new observation system and the use of electronic prescribing and administration (EPMA) system.

Adapted from

Researchers May Have Found the Cause of Cushing’s Disease

A team of researchers may have zeroed in on the cause of Cushing’s disease, a condition that leads to diabetes, obesity and the risk of premature death.

Location of the pituitary gland in the human brain

Location of the pituitary gland in the human brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)(TR4). By reducing the TR4 in lab mice, they were able to reverse tumor growth and excess ACTH production.

More women than men get the disease, which begins usually between 20 and 50 with mostly benign tumors in the pituitary gland. It’s known that that condition results in excess production of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). But until now, scientists haven’t been sure what drives the production of ACTH.

Now, UCLA researchers and their colleagues have zeroed in on the culprit: excessive production of testicular orphan nuclear receptor (TR4). By reducing the TR4 in lab mice, they were able to reverse tumor growth and excess ACTH production.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could point the way to targeted treatment of Cushing’s.


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