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Dennis A. Velez, Marc R. Mayberg, and William H. Ludlam

✓ Endogenous Cushing syndrome (CS) results from hypercortisolemia caused by excess adrenocorticotropic hormone production in a pituitary adenoma or ectopic tumor, or by an adrenal tumor that directly produces excess cortisol. The diagnosis can usually be ascertained with a reasonable degree of certainty based on clinical and laboratory findings of hypercortisolism. There are patients, however, in whom the production of excess cortisol exhibits a cyclic or intermittent pattern, and, as a result, the clinical symptoms may be quite complex and varied. In these patients the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis may be normal between cycles, and dexamethasone suppression testing may produce a paradoxical response. In the present article, the authors provide a definition of cyclic Cushing syndrome, review the causes and its potential pathophysiological mechanisms, and discuss the treatment options based on a review of the available literature.

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Namath S. Hussain, Mackenzie Piper, W. Grant Ludlam, William H. Ludlam, Cindy J. Fuller, and Marc R. Mayberg

Object

Transient delayed postoperative hyponatremia (DPH) after transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is common and can have potentially devastating consequences. However, the true prevalence of transient symptomatic and asymptomatic DPH has not been studied in a large patient cohort with close and accurate follow-up.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of a single-institution prospective database was conducted; all patients undergoing TSS for lesions involving the pituitary gland were followed up in a multidisciplinary neuroendocrine clinic, and demographic, imaging, and clinical data were prospectively collected. Patients were examined preoperatively and followed up postoperatively in a standardized fashion, and their postoperative sodium levels were measured at Weeks 1 and 2 postoperatively. Levels of hyponatremia were rated as mild (serum sodium concentration 130–134 mEq/L), moderate (125–129 mEq/L), or severe (< 125 mEq/L). Routine clinical questionnaires were administered at all postoperative office visits. Postoperative hyponatremia was analyzed for correlations with demographic and clinical features and with immediate postoperative physiological characteristics.

Results

Over a 4-year interval, 373 procedures were performed in 339 patients who underwent TSS for sellar and parasellar lesions involving the pituitary gland. The mean (± SD) age of patients was 48 ± 18 years; 61.3% of the patients were female and 46.1% were obese (defined as a body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30). The overall prevalence of DPH within the first 30 days postoperatively was 15.0%; 7.2% of the patients had mild, 3.8% moderate, and 3.8% severe hyponatremia. The incidence of symptomatic hyponatremia requiring hospitalization was 6.4%. The Fisher exact test detected a statistically significant association of DPH with female sex (p = 0.027) and a low BMI (p = 0.001). Spearman rank correlation detected a statistically significant association between BMI and nadir serum sodium concentration (r = 0.158, p = 0.002) and an inverse association for age (r = −0.113, p = 0.031). Multivariate analyses revealed a positive correlation between postoperative hyponatremia and a low BMI and a trend toward association with age; there were no associations between other preoperative demographic or perioperative risk factors, including immediate postoperative alterations in serum sodium concentration. Patients were treated with standardized protocols for hyponatremia, and DPH was not associated with permanent morbidity or mortality.

Conclusions

Delayed postoperative hyponatremia was a common result of TSS; a low BMI was the only clear predictor of which patients will develop DPH. Alterations in immediate postoperative sodium levels did not predict DPH. Therefore, an appropriate index of suspicion and close postoperative monitoring of serum sodium concentration should be maintained for these patients, and an appropriate treatment should be undertaken when hyponatremia is identified.