Heterogenous patterns of recovery of thirst in adult patients with adipsic diabetes insipidus

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Background: The natural history of adipsic diabetes insipidus (ADI) is not well described, and reports of recovery of thirst are rare.

Design and Methods: Case histories presentation. ADI was identified by demonstrating absent thirst and arginine vasopressin (AVP) responses to hypertonic saline infusion.

Results: Twelve patients with ADI were identified (craniopharyngioma 5, anterior communicating artery aneurysm (ACOM) repair 4, congenital 1, neurosarcoidosis 1, prolactinoma 1). Three patients died. Six patients had permanent ADI. Three patients had recovery of thirst, with a heterogenous pattern of recovery. In the first case, ADI had developed after clipping of an ACOM aneurysm. Ten years after surgery; he sensed the return of thirst; repeated hypertonic saline infusion showed recovery of thirst and AVP secretion. In the second case, a 41-year-old female with an intrasellar craniopharyngioma developed post-operative ADI with persistent hypernatremia. Two years post-operatively, she complained of thirst, and hypertonic saline infusion showed normalization of thirst but absent AVP responses, confirming recovery of thirst, but with persistent diabetes insipidus (DI). In the third case, a 29-year-old Caucasian had craniotomy and radiotherapy for craniopharyngioma and developed ADI post-operatively. Eight years post-op, she presented with thirst, seizures and pNa of 112 mmol/l. Hypertonic saline infusion showed persistent DI but thirst responses typical of compulsive water drinking; she has had recurrent hyponatraemia since then.

Conclusions: We report that 3/12 patients with ADI recovered thirst after longstanding adipsia with heterogenous pattern of recovery. Both the mortality of 25% and the recovery rate of 25% should be considered when planning long-term surveillance.

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