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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Recurrent Cushing's disease: successful treatment by pituitary irradiation or trans-sphenoidal hypophysectomy in two cases.

Two patients developed recurrent Cushing's disease 3 and 7 years after total bilateral adrenalectomy. In the first patient, a 65-year-old man, the adrenal tissue was not localized by radioactive cholesterol scintigraphy. Plain x-ray films of the skull revealed a normal sella turcica. Although clinical improvement resulted from the discontinuation of cortisone replacement therapy, urinary free cortisol levels remained elevated and the patient was treated with pituitary irradiation. Serum and urine cortisol levels gradually returned to normal. Four years after irradiation, the plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentration was elevated, but tomography of the sella turcica and urinary cortisol excretion remained normal. The second patient, a 41-year-old man, displayed elevated ACTH levels and x-ray evidence of a pituitary tumor at the time of recurrent Cushing's disease. After trans-sphenoidal hypophysectomy, the hypercortisolism abated and the ACTH concentration returned to normal. Adrenal scintigraphy frequently locates cortisol-secreting tissue in patients with recurrent Cushing's disease, and some investigators suggest treatment by the surgical removal of the adrenal remnant. Although the etiology of Cushing's disease is controversial, current evidence suggests that most cases result from ACTH-producing pituitary tumors. We suggest, therefore, that the anterior pituitary gland may be a more suitable target than the adrenal remnant for the treatment of recurrent Cushing's disease.[1]


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