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Surgery. 2011 Dec;150(6):1178-85. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.09.020.

A quantitative tool to assess degree of sarcopenia objectively in patients with hypercortisolism.

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Division of Endocrine Surgery, Section of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



Muscle weakness and wasting are known manifestations of hypercortisolism (HC). Central sarcopenia is a marker of frailty and predicts mortality. The hypothesis of this study is that central sarcopenia can be used as a marker of disease severity and frailty in patients with HC.


Psoas muscle area and psoas muscle density (PMD) were measured at specific points on CT scans of patients with HC using a defined protocol. We compared 24-hour urine cortisol (24HUC) levels by time point to each CT scan. A linear regression model was used to describe the relationship between 24HUC and morphometric variables. A comparison with matched non-HC patients was performed.


We identified 45 patients (34 female). The median age was 46 years (range, 14-80); the median 24HUC was 211 mg/dL (range, 9.5-39,500); the median PMD was 50.1 24HUC (range, 20-72). An inverse correlation (-0.29) between 24HUC levels and PMD was noted (P = .045). Intra-abdominal fat was also significantly and positively correlated with 24HUC: 27 non-HC patients matched for age, sex, and body-mass index showed higher (58 vs 51) PMD (P = .0127) compared to those with HC.


PMD and intra-abdominal fat are significantly related to 24HUC levels. Morphometric measures of the overall burden of HC may allow more precise assessment of disease severity.

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