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THYROID-RELATED BONE LESIONS : clinical illustration


Academic year: 2021

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THYROID-RELATED BONE LESIONS : clinical illustration

S. Tribolet (1), R. Nicolescu (2)

Universitary Department of Pediatrics, CHR LA CITADELLE, University of Liège.


Pediatric resident, University of Liège


Pediatrician endocrinologist, Pediatrics unit, CHR Citadelle, 4000 Liège



Primary hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disease. Although the diagnosis is often simple, some clinical presentations are rarer. The association of short stature, epiphysis bone lesions and severe retarded bone age in children should lead to the diagnosis of severe, long-standing acquired hypothyroidism.


: Actions of T3 :

- During bone formation : - stimulation of osteoblast proliferation, differentiation and apopotosis

- ↑ the expression of osteocalcin, type 1 collagen, alkalin phosphatase, IGF1,… - During bone resorption : - ↑ expression of IL6 and PGE2 (differenting factors of osteoclast lineage)

- synergistic action with PTH and vitamin D

- activation of RANK, a key step in osteoclastogenesis

→ anabolism during development and catabolism after bone maturation

Actions of TSH :

- negative regulator of bone turnover

- enhanced bone remodeling and osteoporosis

-Mains effects of thyroid disorders on bone :



- A 14-year-old boy presents bilateral hip pain that have been evolving for 3 days (already intermittent for 2 years)

- Pain increase with mobilization and weight bearing. - No fever and no history of trauma.

- Clinical examination :

-internal and external rotation of hips provoked pain

-no neurological deficiency.

-very short proportionate stature (133cm)

-abnormal phenotypic features of the patient : relatively macrocephaly and macroorchidism - Additionnal tests :

- Biology :

- no inflammatory syndrome;

- low level of T3 and T4 hormones;

- very high TSH level in serum (312mUI/l); - no antibodies against thyroid;

- gonadotrophin, cortisol normals ;

- growth hormones (IGF-1 and IGF-BP3) a little bit reduced;

→ diagnosis of severe acquired


- Radiology :

condensation and fragmentation of the epiphyseal nuclei bilateraly with irregular aspect of cotyles?

→ diagnosis of severe and bilateral Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (infirmed aftewardr)

- US : atrophic thyroid

- Bone maturation : 6 years (Graulich and Pyle atlas) - Treatment : L-thyroxine with progressive dosis

- Evolution : favorable with linear growth acceleration


Bone-related lesions :

- retarded growth and bone maturation with delayed ossification - reduced postnatal growth and bone mineralization

-delayed closure of the cranial sutures in early life

-greater thickness in cortical bone with ↑ risk of fractures -disturbances of endochondral ossification

Damaged, altered or absent thyroid gland


Failure of TSH synthesis, secretion or action


Low free T4 and elevated serum TSH levels Low free T4 and TSH levels

Autoimmune Drug Iodine lack Irradiation


deficiency in thyroid hormone secretion by the thyroid gland → reduction of thyroid hormone action at cellular level

- Between 6 months and 3 years : - Deceleration of linear growth - Coarse facial features

- Dry skin with carotenemia - Hoarse cry and large tongue - Muscular pseudohypertrophy

- During childhood :

- Deceleration of linear growth - Muscle weakness and


- Dry skin with carotenemia

- Generalized swelling or myxedema - Precocious sexual development

(without hair)

- During adolescence :

- Delayed onset of puberty - Decelaration of linear growth - Delay in eruption of teeth - Dry skin with carotenemia - Galactorrhea

- Generalized swelling or myxedema

If prolonged hypothyroidism :

- Decrease in the linear growth with short stature

- High level of cholesterol

- Slowing of mental function and school performance

- Episodic hip or knee pain caused by slipped capital femoral epiphysis

- Chronic constipation

Pituary adenomas Craniopharyngiomas Radiation

Treatment : L-thyroxine



On bone remodeling cycle

Deiodinases 2 activity



Osteoblastic and osteoclastic


Duration of bone remodeling cycle

Prolonged (mainly

resorption phase)

formation phase)

Reduced (mainly

On young skeleton

Growth velocity

Bone mineralization


ossification/bone age

Final stature

↓ and disproportionate

↓ and proportionate


Relationships between endocrine-associated biochemical abnormalities and altered growth plate structure and function are known.

Hypothyroidism in children results in short stature and delayed bone maturation with a fragmentation of the femoral heads, misdiagnosed as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, as in this clinical case. Recuperation of the expected weight and of the bone mineralization depends on the duration and severity of the lack of hormones.


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