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Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2007 Nov;51(8):1191-8.

Screening and diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome.

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Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP.


Cushing's syndrome (CS) results from sustained pathologic hypercortisolism. The clinical features are variable and the most specific features for CS include abnormal fat distribution, particularly in the supraclavicular and temporal fossae, proximal muscle weakness, wide purple striae, and decreased linear growth with continued weight gain in a child. Clinical presentation of CS can be florid and in this case the diagnosis is usually straightforward. However, the diagnosis can be difficult particularly in states of mild or cyclical or periodical hypercortisolism. Several tests based on the understanding of the physiologic characteristics of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis have been used extensively to confirm the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome, but none has proven fully capable of distinguishing all cases of CS from normal and/or pseudo-Cushing individuals. Three first-line diagnostic tests are currently used to screen for CS: measurement of free cortisol in 24-hour urine (UFC), cortisol suppressibility by low doses of dexamethasone (DST), and assessment of cortisol circadian rhythm using late-night serum and/or salivary cortisol. This paper discusses the effectiveness regarding best cut-off values, the sensitivity and the specificity of these tests to screen for CS. Late-night salivary cortisol appears to be the most useful screening test. UFC and DST should be performed to provide further confirmation of the diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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