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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1994 Aug;41(2):231-6.

A prospective study of the prevalence of clear-cut endocrine disorders and polycystic ovaries in 350 patients presenting with hirsutism or androgenic alopecia.

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Department of Radiology, Skin Hospital, Salford.



To determine the frequency of polycystic ovaries (PCO) on ultrasound and the incidence of clearcut endocrine disorders leading to virilization in patients complaining of hirsutism or androgenic alopecia. The major purpose was to determine a coherent policy for the routine biochemical assessment of such women.


A prospective study of women attending a joint skin/endocrine clinic complaining of these problems.


Three hundred and fifty consecutive women with hirsutism and/or androgenic alopecia were assessed.


Baseline endocrine screens were conducted on two occasions and included measurement of serum testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, sex hormone binding globulin, LH, FSH, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and PRL. The ovaries were visualized by high-resolution pelvic ultrasound scanning.


Eight women were identified with relevant endocrine disorders; of these, one was acromegalic and one had a microprolactinoma--in both cases the association may have been fortuitous. Three had clear-cut 21-hydroxylase deficiency, one a rare hepatic enzyme deficiency (11-reductase), one a virilizing adrenal carcinoma and one a Leydig cell tumour. The latter six cases all had persistently elevated levels of serum testosterone (> 5 nmol/l). In all, 13 women had baseline testosterone levels in excess of 5 nmol/l. Polycystic ovaries were present in 81% of the cases who had erratic cycles and 52% of those with regular cycles; PCO were present in two of the women with 21-hydroxylase deficiency and in the woman with 11-oxoreductase deficiency. The Leydig cell tumour (1.2 cm diameter) was not detected on ultrasound or CT scan.


For the exclusion of enzyme deficiencies and virilizing tumours clinical assessment and a single serum testosterone measurement will suffice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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