Accuracy of several parameters of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in predicting before surgery the metabolic effects of the removal of an adrenal incidentaloma

Cristina Eller-Vainicher, Valentina Morelli, Antonio Stefano Salcuni, Claudia Battista, Massimo Torlontano, Francesca Coletti, Laura Iorio, Elisa Cairoli, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Maura Arosio, Bruno Ambrosi, Alfredo Scillitani, Iacopo Chiodini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context: It is unknown whether the metabolic effects of the removal of an adrenal incidentaloma (AI) can be predicted by the assessment of cortisol hypersecretion before surgery. Objective: To evaluate the accuracy of several criteria of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in predicting the metabolic outcome after adrenalectomy. Design: Retrospective longitudinal study. Patients: In 55 surgically treated AI patients (Group 1) before surgery and in 53 nontreated AI patients (Group 2) at the baseline, urinary free cortisol (UFC), cortisol after 1 mg overnight dexamethasone-suppression test (1 mg-DST), ACTH, and midnight serum cortisol (MSC) were measured. In Groups 1 and 2, metabolic parameters were evaluated before and 29.6 ± 13.8 months after surgery and at the baseline and after 35.2 ± 10.9 months respectively. Main outcome measures: The improvement/worsening of weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels (endpoints) was defined by the presence of a > 5% weight decrease/increase and following the European Society of Cardiology or the ATP III criteria respectively. The accuracy of UFC, 1 mg-DST, ACTH, and MSC, singularly taken or in combination, in predicting the improvement/worsening of ≥ 2 endpoints was calculated. Results: The presence of ≥ 2 among UFC > 70 μg/24 h (193 nmol/l), ACTH <10 pg/ml (2.2 pmol/l), 1 mg-DST > 3.0 μg/dl (83 nmol/l) (UFC-ACTH-DST criterion) had the best accuracy in predicting the endpoints' improvement (sensitivity (SN) 65.2%, specificity (SP) 68.8%) after surgery. In the nontreated AI patients, this criterion predicted the worsening of ≥ 2 endpoints (SN 55.6%, SP 82.9%). Conclusions: The UFC-ACTH-DST criterion seems to be the best for predicting the metabolic outcome in surgically treated AI patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-935
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)

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