Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2010 Sep-Dec; 7(3): 240.
Copyright © 2010, CIC Edizioni Internazionali
Specialist Rehabilitation Unit, Hospital of Voghera, Voghera, Italy
Cushing’s syndrome is characterised by a series of clinical manifestations due to hypersecretion of cortisol. These include: arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus (DM), asthenia, amenorrhea, osteoporosis and pathological fractures.
We describe the case of a 70-year-old woman with Cushing’s syndrome with right adrenal adenoma, vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) and severe secondary osteoporosis. This patient had been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome in May 2008, three years after the onset of arterial hypertension and type II DM, treated with insulin; in July 2008, she underwent right adrenalectomy and replacement therapy with cortisone acetate, 37.5 mg/day, in association with a multiple drug regimen for hypertension and DM; she also had an at least 10-year history of dorso-lumbar pain with multiple disc protrusions.
As part of a series of investigations for Cushing’s syndrome the patient underwent femoral bone mineral densitometry, recording a T-score <−3, radiographic examination of the dorso-lumbar spine, which revealed collapse of the superior endplate of D7 and a wedge fracture of D8. At the endocrinology centre of reference for Cushing’s syndrome, she began treatment with alendronate 70 mg/day without undergoing blood chemistry tests of bone metabolism and without calcium and vitamin D supplementation. At the end of August 2009, she experienced worsening spinal pain due to a new severe fracture of D9, which was confirmed on MRI as a recent fracture. At the end of December 2009 she received kyphoplasty of D9, antiresorptive therapy and a CAMP-C35 brace.
In January 2010 she was admitted to the specialist rehabilitation unit for functional recovery, in view of her comorbidities, and bone disease investigation, with collection of history relating to osteoporosis risk factors. First- and second-level blood chemistry analyses revealed the presence of iron-deficiency anaemia, mild chronic renal insufficiency, and secondary hyerparathyroidism (PTH 101ng/ml); spinal radiography revealed severe VCFs of D7, D8 and D9, treated with kyphoplasty; the patient was also assessed using the VAS for pain, the FIM to evaluate independence in activities of daily living, and the SF-36 to investigate quality of life. The alendronate treatment was suspended and the patient was given cholecalciferol 300,000 IU, administered as an oral bolus, followed by a maintenance dose of 800 IU/day. When PTH values had returned to normal, she began treatment with teriparatide 20 mcg/day s.c. (therapeutic plan in compliance with Note 79 issued by the AIFA - Italian Drug Agency).
In conclusion, this case underlines the importance of a correct diagnostic and therapeutic approach in patients with severe osteoporosis. Over time, we will evaluate the efficacy of the treatment in preventing new fractures and the whether the use of a bone anabolic agent might be the correct choice also in order to control pain and improve quality of life. There are no reports in the literature of patients with Cushing’s syndrome treated with teriparatide.