The ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test and the dexamethasone suppression test in the differential diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome

L. K. Nieman, G. P. Chrousos, E. H. Oldfield, P. C. Avgerinos, G. B. Cutler, D. L. Loriaux

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Abstract

We gave a standard dexamethasone suppression test and an ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation test to 41 patients with adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)-dependent hypercortisolism to determine the efficacy of each test in the differential diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome. Twenty-nine of thirty-three patients with Cushing's disease and 0 of 8 patients with ectopic secretion of ACTH responded to ovine CRH test with increased levels of cortisol. When a cortisol response was judged as positive for Cushing's disease, the CRH test had a diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 88%, 100% and 90%, respectively. Twenty-nine patients with Cushing's disease and 1 patient with ectopic secretion of ACTH responded to the dexamethasone suppression test. A combined-test strategy requiring negative results from both tests to exclude a diagnosis of Cushing's disease yielded superior sensitivity (100%) and diagnostic accuracy (98%). Thus, the ovine CRH test works as well as the standard dexamethasone suppression test in discriminating between Cushing's disease and ectopic ACTH secretion. The diagnostic power of each test is enhanced when the two tests are combined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-867
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Volume105
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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