Pre-Cushing's syndrome not recognized by conventional dexamethasone suppression-tests in an adrenal "incidentaloma" patient.

Journal of endocrinological investigation

PubMedID: 9364256

Torlontano M, Zingrillo M, D'Aloiso L, Ghiggi MR, Di Cerbo A, Scillitani A, Petracca-Ciavarella G, Liuzzi A. Pre-Cushing's syndrome not recognized by conventional dexamethasone suppression-tests in an adrenal "incidentaloma" patient. J Endocrinol Invest. 1997;20(8):501-4.
Pre-Cushing's syndrome has been recently diagnosed in 6-12% of patients affected with incidentally discovered adrenal masses. Some of these patients have been described to show transient hypoadrenalism after surgery, similarly to those affected with overt Cushing's syndrome. We studied a 70-year-old male patient with a large left adrenal mass, incidentally discovered, who displayed 24-h urinary free cortisol levels at the upper limit of the normal range, normal dexamethasone overnight and low-dose suppression tests and not suppressed ACTH levels, increased 17-hydroxyprogesterone response to ACTH stimulation and low upright plasma renin activity with normal serum aldosterone levels; furthermore, DHEAS level was low and 75 Selenium-cholesterol scintigraphy showed unilateral uptake concordant with the side of the mass. Soon after left adrenalectomy, he complained of acute hypoadrenalism requiring cortisol replacement therapy: ten months after surgery he is still hypoadrenal. Moreover, stimulated 17-hydroxyprogesterone and plasma renin activity in clino- and orthostatic posture have become normal. We propose that conventional dexamethasone suppression-tests may be not enough sensitive in this kind of patients and that in selected cases the absence of controlateral uptake at scintigraphy may be more reliable in predicting post-surgical hypoadrenalism.