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      Efficient Short-Term Control of Hypercortisolaemia by Low-Dose Etomidate in Severe Paediatric Cushing’s Disease

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          Background: Paediatric Cushing’s disease (CD) is rare, but is associated with considerable morbidity and requires effective treatment. Control of hypercortisolaemia is recommended prior to definitive therapy by transsphenoidal pituitary surgery with selective adenomectomy. We describe a 6.2-year-old male with severe hypercortisolaemia and life-threatening complications of Cushing’s disease. Control of cortisol with metyrapone and ketoconazole was ineffective, and due to his deteriorating condition, the decision was taken to proceed to bilateral adrenalectomy. Methods: Low-dose IV infusion of etomidate, with dose titration according to serum cortisol levels, was administered. Results: Etomidate infusion (3.0 mg/h i.v.) decreased serum cortisol from 1,250 to 250 nmol/l within 24 h. Combined etomidate and hydrocortisone therapy was maintained to provide stable serum cortisol levels within the desired range for 12 days prior to successful bilateral adrenalectomy. Conclusion: In our experience, etomidate was effective and safe for short-term control of severe hypercortisolaemia in a severely ill child.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Short and long-term responses to metyrapone in the medical management of 91 patients with Cushing's syndrome.

          To analyse the clinical and biochemical effects of metyrapone in the treatment of Cushing's syndrome. An evaluation of the standard clinical practice at one institution. Ninety-one patients with Cushing's syndrome: 57 pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease, 10 adrenocortical adenomas, six adrenocortical carcinomas and 18 ectopic ACTH syndrome. The acute response to metyrapone was assessed by measuring cortisol, 11-desoxycortisol and ACTH at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 hours after a test dose of 750 mg of metyrapone. The longer-term effect of metyrapone was judged by measuring serum cortisol at 0900, 1200, 1500, 1800, 2100 and sometimes 2400 h and calculating a mean. A test dose of 750 mg of metyrapone decreased serum cortisol levels within 2 hours in all groups of patients and this effect was sustained at 4 hours. At the same time, serum 11-desoxycortisol levels increased in all patients, while plasma ACTH increased in patients with pituitary Cushing's disease and the ectopic ACTH-syndrome. Fifty-three patients with Cushing's disease were followed on short-term metyrapone therapy (1 to 16 weeks) before other more definitive therapy. Their mean cortisol levels (median 654 nmol/l, range 408-2240) dropped to the target range of less than 400 nmol/l in 40 patients (75%) on a median metyrapone dose of 2250 mg/day (range 750-6000). Metyrapone was given long term in 24 patients with Cushing's disease who had been given pituitary irradiation, for a median of 27 months (range 3-140) with adequate control of hypercortisolaemia in 20 (83%). In 10 patients with adrenocortical adenomas and six with adrenocortical carcinomas, metyrapone in a median dose of 1750 mg/day (range 750-6000) reduced their mean cortisol levels (median 847 nmol/l, range 408-2000) to less than 400 nmol/l in 13 patients (81%). In 18 patients with the ectopic ACTH-syndrome the 'mean cortisol levels', obtained from five or six samples on the test day (median 1023 nmol/l, range 823-6354) were reduced to less than 400 nmol/l in 13 patients (70%), on a median dose of 4000 mg/day (range 1000-6000). Reduction of cortisol levels was clearly associated with clinical and biochemical improvement. The medication was well tolerated. Transient hypoadrenalism and hirsutism were unusual but were the most common side-effects. In our experience metyrapone remains a most useful agent for controlling cortisol levels in the management of Cushing's syndrome of all types.
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            Hepatic steatosis in Cushing's syndrome: a radiological assessment using computed tomography.

            Hepatic steatosis may occur in association with insulin resistance and obesity, two features commonly seen in Cushing's syndrome (CS). The aim of this report is to assess the prevalence of hepatic steatosis in patients with active CS using computed tomography (CT) and to identify any associations between hepatic steatosis, endocrine and biochemical variables and body fat distribution. We identified 50 patients with active CS in whom appropriate CT was available to allow measurement of liver and spleen attenuation. In 26 patients, abdominal fat measurements were also available. Serum markers of CS and liver function tests were recorded. Ten of 50 patients had a liver-to-spleen CT attenuation ratio (L/S) of less than 1, indicating hepatic steatosis. There was a significant negative correlation between both liver attenuation and L/S ratio with total abdominal fat area, visceral fat area, the percentage of visceral fat and the visceral to subcutaneous fat ratio; the strongest negative correlation was found between visceral fat area and L/S ratio (r=-0.638, P<0.001, n=26). L/S ratio positively correlated with alkaline phosphatase levels (r=+0.423, P=0.044, n=23) but with no other serum marker of CS activity or liver enzyme. We have demonstrated hepatic steatosis on CT in 20% of patients with active CS. The presence of hepatic steatosis was significantly correlated with total abdominal fat area and visceral fat area.
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              The Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Cushing's Syndrome and Pseudo-Cushing's States


                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                October 2005
                26 October 2005
                : 64
                : 3
                : 140-143
                aDepartments of Paediatric and Adult Endocrinology and Clinical Biochemistry, St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals, and bDepartments of Endocrinology and Surgery, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK; cDepartment of Paediatrics, Centro Hospitalar, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
                88587 Horm Res 2005;64:140–143
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 20, Pages: 4
                Novel Insights from Clinical Experience


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