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Srp Arh Celok Lek. 2012 Jul-Aug;140(7-8):500-4.

Adrenocorticotrophin-dependent hypercortisolism: imaging versus laboratory diagnosis.

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Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia.



Cushing's syndrome results from inappropriate exposure to excessive glucocorticoids. Untreated, it has significant morbidity and mortality.


A 38-year-old woman with a typical appearance of Cushing's syndrome was admitted for further evaluation of hypercortisolism. The serum cortisol level was elevated without diurnal rhythm, without adequate suppression of cortisol after 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test. 24-hour urinary-free cortisol level was elevated. Differential diagnostic testing indicated adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH)-dependent lesion of the pituitary origin. Pituitary abnormalities were not observed during repeated MRI scanning. Inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) was performed: 1) Baseline ratio ACTH inferior petrosal sinus/peripheral was <2; 2) Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulated ratio ACTH inferior petrosal sinus/peripheral was <3; 3) Baseline intersinus ratio of ACTH was <1.4; 4) Increase in inferior petrosal sinus and peripheral ACTH of more than 50 percent above basal level after CRH; 5) Baseline ratio ACTH vena jugularis interna/peripheral was >1.7. Transsphenoidal exploration and removal of the pituitary tumor was performed inducing iatrogenic hypopituitarism. Postoperative morning serum cortisol level was less than 50 nmol/l on adequate replacement therapy with hydrocortisone, levothyroxine and estro-progestagen.


No single test provides absolute distinction, but the combined results of several tests generally provide a correct diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome.

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