03 February 2000
Test sensitivity and accuracy of 250 μg/m<sup>2</sup> ACTH test, 1 μg/m<sup>2</sup> ACTH test, and overnight metyrapone test were evaluated in 158 children at risk for ACTH deficiency. Of 38 given high-dose ACTH, 20 had normal responses to metyrapone and to high-dose ACTH. 14 had low response to metyrapone; of these only 2 had low cortisol response (<550 nmol/l) to high-dose ACTH. Of 120 given low-dose ACTH, 64 had normal responses to metyrapone and to low-dose ACTH. All 24 with low metyrapone response had low or borderline response to low-dose ACTH. The remaining children had an inconclusive metyrapone response. In conclusion, high-dose ACTH misses most diagnoses of ACTH deficiency (21% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 63% accuracy). In contrast, the low dose ACTH test accurately diagnoses 90% of patients with ACTH deficiency (100% sensitivity, 68% specificity). The low-dose ACTH test can serve as an accurate and practical screening test for adequacy of ACTH reserve.