2003 Volume 50 Issue 4 Pages 399-408
Subclinical Cushing's syndrome (SCS) is being detected with increased frequency in patients with adrenal incidentaloma. In the current study, we evaluated the prevalence of SCS in 70 patients with adrenal incidentaloma and compared the main findings on them with other patients with nonfunctional adrenal incidentaloma (NFA). Overnight 3 mg dexamethasone (DXM) suppression test to exclude cortisol hypersecretion, and high dose DXM suppression test to find out patients with SCS, were applied to all subjects. Afterwards, biochemical and clinical findings of patients with SCS were compared with the other patients with NFA. Four of the 70 patients with adrenal incidentaloma were found to have SCS, with a prevalence of 5.7%. Basal ACTH and DHEA-S levels were significantly lower (p<0.05 and p<0.01, respectively), and midnight cortisol and 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels were significantly higher in patients with SCS (p<0.001 and p<0.05, respectively). Biochemical and metabolic bone parameters were similar in patients with SCS and in patients with NFA. Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and obesity were more common in patients with SCS. One of the patients with SCS developed adrenocortical insufficiency following unilateral adrenalectomy which lasted for about 6 months. Suppressed ACTH and DHEA-S levels, and high midnight cortisol levels may be some clues for SCS in patients with adrenal incidentaloma. Since patients with SCS frequently have risk factors for atherosclerosis such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, and the surgical management of SCS with adrenalectomy may offer an advantage. Patients undergoing adrenalectomy should be followed for the development of adrenal insufficiency.