ESPE Abstracts (2014) 82 P-D-3-1-980

Diagnostic challenges of thyroid dysfunction in eating disorders

Priyha Santhanam, Louise Denvir, Pooja Sachdev & Tabitha Randell


Queen’s Medical centre, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust, Nottingham, UK


Background: Anorexia nervosa is usually associated with lower levels of thyroid hormones especially suppressed TSH and T3 with normal T4 levels due to the effects of starvation on metabolism. We present two cases where the underlying eating disorder masked the thyroid dysfunction.

Patient 1: 15-year-old girl with anorexia nervosa and BMI of 15.6 was noted to have suppressed TSH<0.1 mU/l, high normal T3–7.0 pmol/l and normal T4–17.4 pmol/l suggesting subclinical hyperthyroidism within one month after starting on re-feeding regimen. On examination she had right thyroid nodule. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies were mildly raised at 72.6.Radio-Isotope scan showed good uptake in the right lobe with no uptake in the left lobe. Ultrasound thyroid showed multinodular goitre. She was started on carbimazole. Three months after her initial presentation her thyroid function had normalised with normal thyroid antibody level. Hence carbimazole was stopped and subsequent thyroid function tests have been normal. Hence, the thyroid dysfunction was attributed to her eating disorder. She presented after 2 years with biochemical evidence of hyperthyroidism following relapse of her eating disorder and was restarted on carbimazole.

Patient 2: 16-year-old girl with anorexia nervosa and BMI-15 was noted to have biochemical evidence of autoimmune hypothyroidism on presentation. Her TSH was raised at 44 mU/l, with markedly suppressed T4–4.9 pmol/ and T3–2.7 pmol/l. Her thyroid function tests had normalised after starting on thyroxine.

Conclusion: Anorexia nervosa may mask thyroid dysfunction making it difficult to interpret the thyroid function tests.

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