Content 12




Alcohol can interfere with the function of each of these components, thereby causing impotence, infertility, and reduced male secondary sexual characteristics.1 In the testes, alcohol can adversely affect the Leydig cells, which produce and secrete the hormone testosterone. Studies found that heavy alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels in the blood. Alcohol also impairs the function of the testicular Sertoli cells that play an important role in sperm maturation. In the pituitary gland, alcohol can decrease the production, release, and/or activity of two hormones with critical reproductive functions, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Finally, alcohol can interfere with hormone production in the hypothalamus.




The clinical manifestations may be subtle and develop insidiously many years after radiotherapy. Anterior pituitary deficiencies can therefore only be detected by regular testing, including dynamic tests of GH and ACTH reserve.

Although the deficiencies most commonly develop in the order GH, gonadotrophins, ACTH then TSH, this sequence may not be predictable in an individual patient and comprehensive testing is therefore required.1

The tests should ideally be performed annually for at least 10 years after treatment or until deficiency has been detected and treated.

It is not only the patients with pituitary disease who are at risk of developing hypopituitarism after radiotherapy. Any patient who receives a total dose of irradiation of 20 Gy or more to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is at risk of hypopituitarism, although the threshold dose may be lower than this. This is particularly important in the long-term survivors of malignant disease in whom endocrine morbidity may be relatively common and in whom this can be easily treated, with consequent improvement in quality of life.

Whilst patients who receive a high total dose of irradiation are at increased risk of developing multiple deficiencies, a higher fraction size also increases the risk of anterior pituitary failure. There is good evidence that the earliest damage to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis after external radiotherapy is at the level of the hypothalamus. However, patients who undergo pituitary ablation with interstitial radiotherapy or heavy particle beams are likely to sustain direct damage to the pituitary. In these patients, the sequence in which individual pituitary hormone deficiencies develop is generally the same as that observed with the hypothalamic damage after conventional external radiotherapy. The increasing use of radiotherapy as a means of treatment for malignant disease means that new groups of patients with potential for endocrine dysfunction are emerging.

Whole body irradiation in the preparation for bone marrow transplant is one such treatment and although hypothalamic-pituitary damage appears to be confined to GH deficiency in children, longitudinal experience is limited to date, particularly in adults.

The treatment of malignant disease in childhood is of particular importance in terms of the delayed endocrine sequelae. The hypothalamic-pituitary axis may not be the only endocrine tissue damaged by treatment in these patients and management is therefore more complicated.

In the growing child, the potential association of growth hormone deficiency, gonadal failure or premature puberty and thyroid dysfunction mean that expert endocrine supervision is essential for optimum long-term outcome.



In adults, hypopituitarism is a common consequence of external radiotherapy.




Complications of Injecting Drug Use

  • Local problems—Abscess (Figures 240-2 
    Image not available.

    A 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes developed large abscesses all over her body secondary to injection of cocaine and heroin. Her back shows the large scars remaining after the healing of these abscesses. (Courtesy of ­Richard P. Usatine, MD.)

    and 240-3; Abscess), cellulitis, septic thrombophlebitis, local induration, necrotizing fasciitis, gas gangrene, pyomyositis, mycotic aneurysm, compartmental syndromes, and foreign bodies (e.g., broken needle parts) in local areas.2
    • IDUs are at higher risk of getting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) skin infections that the patient may think are spider bites (Figure 240-4).
    • Some IDUs give up trying to inject into their veins and put the cocaine directly into the skin. This causes local skin necrosis that produces round atrophic scars (Figure 240-5).
  • IDUs are at risk for contracting systemic infections, including HIV and hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
    • Injecting drug users are at risk of endocarditis, osteomyelitis (Figures 240-6and 240-7), and an abscess of the epidural region. These infections can lead to long hospitalizations for intravenous antibiotics. The endocarditis that occurs in IDUs involves the right-sided heart valves (see Chapter 50, Bacterial Endocarditis).2 They are also at risk of septic emboli to the lungs, group A β-hemolytic streptococcal septicemia, septic arthritis, and candidal and other fungal infections.


Content 3

Content 13

Content 11


Content 1

A 75-year-old triathlete complains of gradually worsening vision over the past year. It seems to be involving near and far vision. The patient has never required corrective lenses and has no significant medical history other than diet-controlled hypertension. He takes no regular medications. Physical examination is normal except for bilateral visual acuity of 20/100. There are no focal visual field defects and no redness of the eyes or eyelids. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

Complete Quiz and View Results
You will be able to view all answers at the end of your quiz.

The correct answer is A. You answered A.

Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of painless, gradual bilateral central visual loss. It occurs as nonexudative (dry) or exudative (wet) forms. Recent genetic data have shown an association with the alternative complement pathway gene for complement factor H. The mechanism link for that association is unknown. The nonexudative form is associated with retinal drusen that leads to retinal atrophy. Treatment with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc may retard the visual loss. Exudative macular degeneration, which is less common, is caused by neovascular proliferation and leakage of choroidal blood vessels. Acute visual loss may occur because of bleeding. Exudative macular degeneration may be treated with intraocular injection of a vascular endothelial growth factor antagonist (bevacizumab or ranibizumab). Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids usually related to acne rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or staphylococcal infection. Diabetic retinopathy, now a leading cause of blindness in the United States, causes gradual bilateral visual loss in patients with long-standing diabetes. Retinal detachment is usually unilateral and causes visual loss and an afferent pupillary defect.


Mr. Jenson is a 40-year-old man with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve who you have been seeing for more than a decade. You obtain an echocardiogram every other year to follow the progression of his disease knowing that bicuspid valves often develop stenosis or regurgitation requiring replacement in middle age. Given his specific congenital abnormality, what other anatomic structure is important to follow on his biannual echocardiograms?

Next Question
You will be able to view all answers at the end of your quiz.

The correct answer is A. You answered A.

The answer is A. (Chap. 282) Bicuspid aortic valve is among the most common of congenital heart cardiac abnormalities. Valvular function is often normal in early life and thus may escape detection. Due to abnormal flow dynamics through the bicuspid aortic valve, the valve leaflets can become rigid and fibrosed, leading to either stenosis or regurgitation. However, pathology in patients with bicuspid aortic valve is not limited to the valve alone. The ascending aorta is often dilated, misnamed “poststenotic” dilatation; this is due to histologic abnormalities of the aortic media and may result in aortic dissection. It is important to screen specifically for aortopathy because dissection is a common cause of sudden death in these patients.



USMLE Reviewer (Subscription Required)