The outcome in Australian children with hyperinsulinism of infancy: Early extensive surgery in severe cases lowers risk of diabetes

Michelle M. Jack, Ristan M. Greer, Michael J. Thomsett, Rosslyn M. Walker, John R. Bell, Catherine Choong, David M. Cowley, Adrian C. Herington, Andrew M. Cotterill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)



Hyperinsulinism of infancy (HI) is characterized by unregulated insulin secretion in the presence of hypoglycaemia, often resulting in brain damage. Pancreatic resection for control of hypoglycaemia is frequently resisted because of the risk of diabetes mellitus (DM). We investigated retrospectively 62 children with HI from nine Australian treatment centres born between 1972 and 1998, comparing endocrine and neurological outcome in 28 patients receiving medical therapy alone with 34 who required pancreatic resection to control their hypoglycaemia. 


History, treatment and clinical course were ascertained from file audit and interview. Risk of DM (hazard ratio) attributable to age at surgery (< vs. ≥ 100 days at last pancreatectomy) and extent of resection (< vs. ≥ 95%) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression and categorical variables compared by the χ2-test. Neurological outcome (normal, mild deficit or severe deficit) was derived from the most authoritative source. 


Surgically treated patients had a greater birthweight, earlier presentation and higher plasma insulin levels. Of 18 infants <100 days and 16 ≥ 100 days of age at surgery, four (all ≥ 100 days) became diabetic as an immediate consequence of surgery and five (two < 100 days and three ≥ 100 days) became diabetic 7-18 years later. Surgery ≥ 100 days and pancreatectomy ≥ 95% were associated with development of diabetes (HR = 12.61, CI 1.53-104.07 and HR =7-03, CI 1.43-34.58, respectively). Neurodevelopmental outcome was no different between the surgical and medical groups with 44% overall with neurological deficits. Patients euglycaemic within 35 days of the first symptom of hypoglycaemia (Group A) had a better neurodevelopmental outcome than those still hypoglycaemic > 35 days from first presentation (Group B) (P=0.007). Prolonged hypoglycaemia in Group B was due either to delayed diagnosis or to need for repeat surgery because of continued hypoglycaemia. Within Group A, medically treated patients (who presented later with apparently milder disease) had a higher incidence of neurodevelopmental deficit (n = 15, four mild, three severe deficit) compared with surgically treated patients (n=18, two mild, none severe deficit) (P < 0.025). 


Poor neurodevelopmental outcome remains a major problem in hyperinsulinism of infancy. Risk of diabetes mellitus with pancreatectomy varies according to age at surgery and extent of resection. Patients presenting early with severe disease have a better neurodevelopmental outcome and lower risk of diabetes if they are treated with early extensive surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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