Science Teacher Receives Support After Cushing’s Disease Diagnosis

I find it amazing that it’s newsworthy in this day and age for anyone receiving support after a diagnosis.  Of course, a diagnosed person should be getting support as a matter of course.  If she had cancer, everyone would be all over this.

For Kara Murrow, the most rewarding moments as a teacher come when students learn about animals in the classroom. So it’s difficult for the Bonham Elementary fifth-grade science and social studies teacher to be away from school while she prepares for surgery.

“I enjoy it, and I know my kids enjoy the class and enjoy science because of it,” Murrow said. “With the science club I do after school once a week, the kids get upset when it gets canceled because of meetings. Not having it now is upsetting, too.”

Murrow was diagnosed this month with Cushing’s disease, a condition that develops when a tumor on the pituitary gland causes it to secrete too much adrenocorticotropic hormone. Murrow, who moved to West Texas from Arizona three years ago, said she has received support from Midland ISD employees and others in the local community.

Murrow’s mother, Louise Gonzalez, also appreciates Midlanders’ concerns for her daughter.

“People in Midland have been wonderful, considering how new we are to the area,” Gonzalez said. “The school district sent out the GoFundMe page and there’s been an outpouring of support for that. People at my church always ask me.”

Murrow’s family is collecting donations from the website GoFundMe to cover the costs of medical and travel expenses. Murrow and her husband, Kai, recently spent money on hospital stays connected to their 4-year-old son’s food sensitivities.

“They’ve been paying off those bills and doing OK until this came,” Gonzalez said. “Plus, she’s been going to the doctor about this. Because Cushing’s is so rare, doctors don’t recognize it.”

Murrow was diagnosed with the disease after medical professionals discovered a tumor on her pituitary gland. For six years, she experienced symptoms — including weight gain, dizziness and headaches — but said doctors couldn’t determine the cause. Murrow was thankful when she received an answer.

“It was a huge relief to finally have a diagnosis and know that I wasn’t crazy or making things up,” Murrow said. “It’s weird to be excited about a brain tumor. It’s a relief to know what was happening and that I have a solution.”

Murrow traveled this week to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where she’s scheduled to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. Though Murrow said recovery lasts several months, she hopes to return to the classroom next school year.

Jaime White, fourth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Bonham, said both staff and students miss her presence. She said Murrow expresses concern for her students during her time away.

“She’s worried about how kids will do on the STAAR [State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness],” White said. “She doesn’t want them to think she abandoned them. The disease has to take center stage.”

At school, White said she noticed her colleague’s dedication toward helping her students understand science.

“She’s hands-on,” White said. “When it comes to science, she’s always making sure the kids are doing some sort of experiment. She wants to make sure the kids grasp it.”

Murrow teaches students about animals through dissections and presentations. Before she became a teacher nine years ago, she coordinated outreach programs at an Arizona zoo.

When she came to MISD, Murrow saw an opportunity to generate enthusiasm about science. She launched an invite-only science club for fifth-graders who show interest in the subject.

“I started it because there wasn’t really anything,” Murrow said. “They have tutorials for reading and math. There’s not a lot kids can do with science after school. They get science in the younger grades, but the focus is on reading and math. Science is something kids really enjoy.”

Though Murrow is disappointed about not being able to facilitate the club, she recognizes the importance of her upcoming surgery. She’s happy her mother, husband and two children will be in Phoenix for support.

“I hope that it will bring about a sense of relief to all the symptoms I’ve been dealing with and provide a chance for myself and my family to continue along with a full life,” Murrow said.

From http://www.mrt.com/news/local/article/Science-teacher-receives-support-after-11026581.php

Recurrent sellar mass after resection of pituitary macroadenoma

A Puerto Rican woman aged 50 years presented to an ophthalmologist with complaints of vision changes, including difficulty seeing images in her peripheral vision in both eyes and difficulty in color perception. Her medical history was significant for menopause at age 43 years, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. She had no prior history of thyroid disease, changes in her weight, dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches, galactorrhea or growth of her hands or feet.

Formal visual fields showed bitemporal superior quadrantopsia, and she was sent to the ED for further evaluation.

Imaging and laboratory tests

A pituitary protocol MRI was performed that showed a large 3 cm x 2 cm x 2.2 cm mass in the pituitary with mild osseous remodeling of the sella turcica and mass effect on the optic chiasm (Figure 1). The mass was isointense with the brain parenchyma on T1-weighted and T2-weighted images and homogeneously enhanced after IV gadolinium contrast administration.

Baseline laboratory samples drawn at 11 p.m. in the ED showed a cortisol of 16.9 µg/dL (nighttime reference range: 3-16 µg/dL), adrenocorticotropic hormone 65 pg/mL (reference range: 6-50 pg/mL), prolactin 19.4 ng/mL (reference range: 5.2-26.5 ng/mL), thyroid-stimulating hormone 1.36 µIU/mL (reference range: 0.35-4.9 µIU/mL), free thyroxine 0.9 ng/dL (reference range: 0.6-1.8 ng/dL), triiodothyronine 85 ng/dL (reference range: 83-160 ng/dL), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) 11.1 mIU/mL (postmenopausal reference range: 26.7- 133.4 mIU/mL) and luteinizing hormone (LH) 1.2 mIU/mL (postmenopausal reference range: 5.2-62 mIU/mL).

 

Figure 1. T1-weighted MRI images with and without contrast of the pituitary. Coronal (A) and sagittal (C) images showed a large isodense (with brain parenchyma) 3 cm x 2 cm x 2.2 cm mass (red arrow) in the sella with superior extension to the optic chiasm. After gadolinium contrast, coronal (B) and sagittal (D) images show the mass homogenously enhances consistent with a pituitary adenoma.

Images courtesy of Pavani Srimatkandada, MD.

Given the patient’s high nighttime cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, she underwent an overnight dexamethasone suppression test with 1 mg dexamethasone. Her morning cortisol was appropriately suppressed to less than 1 µg/dL, excluding Cushing’s disease.

Pituitary adenoma resection

The patient was diagnosed with a nonsecreting pituitary adenoma with suprasellar extension and optic chiasm compression with visual field deficits. The macroadenoma caused an inappropriately normal LH and FSH in a postmenopausal woman consistent with hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism.

She underwent transnasal transsphenoidal resection of the nonsecreting pituitary adenoma. The dural defect caused by the surgery was patched with an abdominal fat graft with a DuraSeal dura patch. A postoperative MRI showed complete resection of the adenoma with no evaluable tumor in the sella (Figure 2). Her postoperative course was complicated by transient diabetes insipidus requiring intermittent desmopressin; however, this resolved before her discharge from the hospital.

Figure 2. T1-weighted MRI images with contrast. Coronal views before (A) and after (B) transphenoidal tumor resection show complete resolution of the enhancing pituitary mass (A; red arrow) that is replaced with a new hypodense mass in the sella (B; yellow arrow). This mass is filled with cerebrospinal fluid with a residual rim of enhancing tissue. This is consistent with the development of a pseudomeningocele in the sella.

 

Postoperative testing confirmed secondary deficiency of the adrenal, thyroid and ovarian axes requiring hormone therapy. The patient had stable temporal hemianopia in the left eye with improved vision in the right eye.

Recurrent mass detected

One year after surgery, during a routine follow-up appointment, the patient reported no dizziness, lightheadedness, worsening vision changes, rhinorrhea or headache. She had a follow-up MRI of the brain with and without contrast, which showed the interval appearance of a mass in the sella that extended from the sphenoid sinus into the sella and came in contact with the optic nerve (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Axial MRI images of the sella after resection of pituitary adenoma. On T1-weighted images the mass (red arrow) in the sella is hypodense (black) compared with the brain parenchyma. On T2-weighted images, the mass (red arrow) is hyperdense (bright) compared with the brain, consistent with fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid in the sulci on the brain surface and the vitreous fluid within the eye are also hyperintense on T2-weighted images (yellow arrows).

 

On MRI, the mass was isodense with the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) with a residual rim of enhancing normal pituitary tissue. This appearance is consistent with the postoperative development of a pseudomeningocele and not a solid mass in the sella (Table).

Pseudomeningoceles are abnormal collections of CSF that communicate with the CSF space around the brain; these occur after brain surgery involving duraplasty (incision and repair of the dura). Unlike meningoceles, pseudomeningoceles are not completely encased by a surrounding membrane, and they communicate with the circulating CSF. Similar to CSF, a pseudomeningocele is hypodense (dark) compared with brain on T1-weighted MRI images and hyperdense (bright) on T2-weight images.

 

Pseudomeningocele treatment

Treatment may be conservative or may involve neurosurgical repair if symptomatic. Little published data addresses the development of pseudomeningoceles after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery, but this complication occasionally occurs, especially if the dural incision is large. One study noted that pseudomeningoceles are one of the most common complications after suboccipital decompression for Chiari’s malformation, but the effect of this complication is unclear.

Endocrinologists must recognize that recurrent development of pituitary masses after transsphenoidal pituitary adenoma surgery may not represent regrowth of pituitary tissue, but instead development of a meningocele/pseudomeningocele. Pseudomeningocele can be easily confirmed because this fluid collection has very different MRI characteristics than pituitary adenoma (Table). Given that patients may remain asymptomatic after the development of a pseudomeningocele, periodic MRI imaging, hormonal evaluation and ophthalmologic monitoring of visual fields are required after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery.

References:
  • Hernandez Guilabert PM. Poster No C-1330. Presented at: European Society of Radiology; March 7-11, 2013; Vienna.
  • Parker SL, et al. J Neurosurg. 2013;doi:10.3171/2013.8.JNS122106.
For more information:
  • Stephanie L. Lee, MD, PhD, ECNU, is an associate professor of medicine and associate chief, in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at Boston Medical Center. Lee can be reached at Boston Medical Center, 88 E. Newton St., Endocrinology Evans 201, Boston, MA 02118; email: stephanie.lee@bmc.org. Lee reports no relevant financial disclosures.
  • Pavani Srimatkandada, MD, is an endocrinology fellow in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at Boston Medical Center. Srimatkandada can be reached at Boston Medical Center, 88 E. Newton St., Endocrinology Evans 201, Boston, MA 02118. She reports no relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/thyroid/news/print/endocrine-today/%7B82430fb6-bbe4-4908-a389-447eee8cd005%7D/recurrent-sellar-mass-after-resection-of-pituitary-macroadenoma

Common Asthma Steroids Linked to Side Effects in Adrenal Glands

(Reuters Health) – After stopping steroids commonly prescribed for asthma and allergies, a significant number of people may experience signs of malfunctioning in the adrenal glands, a European study finds.

So-called adrenal insufficiency can be dangerous, especially if the person’s body has to cope with a stress like surgery, injury or a serious illness, the study authors say.

“The takeaway message of the study is that in corticosteroid use there is a substantial risk of adrenal insufficiency,” senior author Dr. Olaf Dekkers, an endocrinologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, said by email. “Patients should be aware of this risk and be informed about potential symptoms.”

Those symptoms can include fatigue, dizziness, weight loss and salt cravings, the authors write in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Corticosteroids are man-made drugs designed to mimic the hormone cortisol, which the adrenal glands produce naturally. The drugs are usually used to counter inflammation in a wide range of conditions, including asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, blood cancers and organ transplants.

People with adrenal insufficiency do not make enough of two hormones, cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress, recover from infections and regulate blood pressure and metabolism. Aldosterone helps maintain the right amounts of salt, potassium and water in the body.

While on steroids, the body often produces less of these hormones naturally, and after coming off the drugs it can take a while for natural production to ramp back up. The result is adrenal insufficiency, which can be treated with medication to replace cortisol or aldosterone.

Dekkers and colleagues analyzed 74 research articles published from 1975 to 2014, covering a total of 3753 study participants, to see how different doses and types of corticosteroid treatment might impact the likelihood of developing adrenal insufficiency after treatment.

Researchers found the risk of adrenal insufficiency was highest when corticosteroids were taken orally or injected, and lower with inhaled, nasal or topical treatment.

When they looked just at patients using steroids for asthma, the researchers found that the risk of adrenal insufficiency was about 7 percent with inhaled corticosteroids, but about 44 percent with other formulations including oral medication.

Only about 2 percent of asthma patients on the lowest dose of steroids experienced adrenal insufficiency, compared with about 22 percent on the highest doses.

Similarly, slightly more than 1 percent of asthma patients on short-term steroids developed adrenal insufficiency, compared with about 27 percent on long-term treatment.

There is no way to safely halt treatment with corticosteroids that can rule out the potential for adrenal insufficiency, Dekkers said.

The side effect is more likely when patients take higher doses of steroids or remain on treatment for longer than three weeks, said Dr. Roberto Salvatori, medical director of the pituitary center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

“It’s likely, and it’s often overlooked because most often the people who prescribe corticosteroids aren’t endocrinologists; they are in other specialities and they don’t recognize the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency,” said Salvatori, who wasn’t involved in the study.

He gives his patients on corticosteroids medical identification bracelets or necklaces to wear so they can be identified as at risk for adrenal insufficiency in an emergency. “This is a very important issue that’s not on the radar screen,” he said.

To be sure, more physicians are aware of the risk now than in the 1970s, and the standard doses and durations of corticosteroid treatment have been reduced in part because of this risk, said Dr. Douglas Coursin, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. He, too, advises medical alert bracelets for patients on long-term or high-dose treatment.

“In the past, patients with asthma, certain immune diseases, those receiving some cancer therapies and those who had a solid organ transplant received higher doses for longer periods of time,” Coursin, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Overall, I think the risk may be lower than outlined in the study because of practice changes.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1PjRHYw Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, online April 6, 2015.

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