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Toward a Diagnostic Score in Cushing's Syndrome


Braun, Leah T; Riester, Anna; Oßwald-Kopp, Andrea; Fazel, Julia; Rubinstein, German; Bidlingmaier, Martin; Beuschlein, Felix; Reincke, Martin (2019). Toward a Diagnostic Score in Cushing's Syndrome. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 10:766.

Abstract

Cushing's syndrome (CS) is a classical rare disease: it is often suspected in patients who do not have the disease; at the same time, it takes a mean of 3 years to diagnose CS in affected individuals. The main reason is the extreme rarity (1-3/million/year) in combination with the lack of a single lead symptom. CS has to be suspected when a combination of signs and symptoms is present, which together make up the characteristic phenotype of cortisol excess. Unusual fat distribution affecting the face, neck, and trunk; skin changes including plethora, acne, hirsutism, livid striae, and easy bruising; and signs of protein catabolism such as thinned and vulnerable skin, osteoporotic fractures, and proximal myopathy indicate the need for biochemical screening for CS. In contrast, common symptoms like hypertension, weight gain, or diabetes also occur quite frequently in the general population and per se do not justify biochemical testing. First-line screening tests include urinary free cortisol excretion, dexamethasone suppression testing, and late-night salivary cortisol measurements. All three tests have overall reasonable sensitivity and specificity, and first-line testing should be selected on the basis of the physiologic conditions of the patient, drug intake, and available laboratory quality control measures. Two normal test results usually exclude the presence of CS. Other tests and laboratory parameters like the high-dose dexamethasone suppression test, plasma ACTH, the CRH test, and the bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling are not part of the initial biochemical screening. As a general rule, biochemical screening should only be performed if the pre-test probability for CS is reasonably high. This article provides an overview about the current standard in the diagnosis of CS starting with clinical scores and screenings, the clinical signs, relevant differential diagnoses, the first-line biochemical screening, and ending with a few exceptional cases.

Abstract

Cushing's syndrome (CS) is a classical rare disease: it is often suspected in patients who do not have the disease; at the same time, it takes a mean of 3 years to diagnose CS in affected individuals. The main reason is the extreme rarity (1-3/million/year) in combination with the lack of a single lead symptom. CS has to be suspected when a combination of signs and symptoms is present, which together make up the characteristic phenotype of cortisol excess. Unusual fat distribution affecting the face, neck, and trunk; skin changes including plethora, acne, hirsutism, livid striae, and easy bruising; and signs of protein catabolism such as thinned and vulnerable skin, osteoporotic fractures, and proximal myopathy indicate the need for biochemical screening for CS. In contrast, common symptoms like hypertension, weight gain, or diabetes also occur quite frequently in the general population and per se do not justify biochemical testing. First-line screening tests include urinary free cortisol excretion, dexamethasone suppression testing, and late-night salivary cortisol measurements. All three tests have overall reasonable sensitivity and specificity, and first-line testing should be selected on the basis of the physiologic conditions of the patient, drug intake, and available laboratory quality control measures. Two normal test results usually exclude the presence of CS. Other tests and laboratory parameters like the high-dose dexamethasone suppression test, plasma ACTH, the CRH test, and the bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling are not part of the initial biochemical screening. As a general rule, biochemical screening should only be performed if the pre-test probability for CS is reasonably high. This article provides an overview about the current standard in the diagnosis of CS starting with clinical scores and screenings, the clinical signs, relevant differential diagnoses, the first-line biochemical screening, and ending with a few exceptional cases.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Endocrinology and Diabetology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:15 Jan 2020 15:56
Last Modified:15 Jan 2020 16:01
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-2392
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00766
PubMed ID:31787931

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