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Rev Med Interne. 2013 May;34(5):324-7. doi: 10.1016/j.revmed.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

[Secondary adrenal insufficiency due to exogenous glucocorticoid therapy].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Service de médecine interne, endocrinologie et nutrition, hôpital de Hautepierre, hôpitaux universitaires, 31, avenue Molière, 67098 Strasbourg, France.


Prolonged glucocorticoid therapy is considered to be the most common cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency. Despite this, its true incidence remains unknown and the risk of acute adrenal insufficiency seems to be overestimated. The cosyntropin stimulation test is a very valuable test to assess the adrenal reserve but not to predict the risk of acute adrenal insufficiency. Otherwise, this test is well correlated with the adrenal response to a stress but not with clinical events. The corticosteroid withdrawal modalities are very heterogeneous, non-consensual, and have never been strictly evaluated. Several studies have demonstrated that the need for glucocorticoids coverage during a stress has been overestimated and that hydrocortisone doses should not necessarily be markedly increased. A prospective study of patients after withdrawal would be the only mean to assess the true incidence of this complication and to propose a rational strategy to prevent it. Meanwhile, the education of patients and physicians should be a mandatory step in the management of the patients with a potential risk of adrenal insufficiency.

Copyright © 2013 Société nationale française de médecine interne (SNFMI). Published by Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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