Primary adrenal causes of Cushing's Syndrome. Diagnosis and surgical management

R. R. Perry, L. K. Nieman, G. B. Cutler, G. P. Chrousos, D. L. Loriaux, J. L. Doppman, W. D. Travis, J. A. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cushing's syndrome is rare with only 20% of patients having a primary adrenal cause of hypercortisolism. We have developed a strategy to evaluate patients with suspected Cushing's syndrome and to localize the pathologic condition responsible for the hypercortisolism. Each patient had elevated 24-hour urine free cortisol and 17-hydroxy-corticosteroid excretion consistent with hypercortisolism. Each patient had elevated 24-hour urine free cortisol and 17-hydroxy-corticosteroid excretion consistent with hypercortisolism. All but one patient had undetectable plasma ACTH levels. No patient suppressed urinary steroid levels with high-dose dexamethasone and only one patient increased plasma ACTH or cortisol levels with oCRH, findings that were consistent with a pituitary-independent form of hypercortisolism. No patient had apituitary tumor detected by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and eight patients had adrenal tumors accurately imaged. MRI of the adrenal glands correctly diagnosed adenoma in 5 of 6 patients with adenomas, carcinoma in 1 patient, and ACTH-producing pheochromocytoma in 1 patients. One tumor classified as carcinoma by MRI appeared on pathologic examination to be an adenoma. Three patients underwent petrosal sinus sampling for measurement of ACTH before and after oCRH administration, and each had petrosal sinus ACTH levels equal to peripheral levels, consistent with a primary adrenal cause of hypercortisolism. Two of these patients had typical bilateral pigmented micronodular adrenocortical disease and the third patient had macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia. Each of the 11 patients was cured of hypercortisolism by uilateral or bilateral adrenalectomy and no patient has developed recurrent disease during the 7 to 29 month follow-up period. New modalities including the ovine CRH test, MRI, and petrosal sinus sampling have improved the evaluation of certain patients with Cushing's syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of surgery
Volume210
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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