Clinical research
Traumatic brain injury and adrenal insufficiency: morning cortisol and cosyntropin stimulation tests
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Submission date: 2011-01-26
Final revision date: 2011-04-05
Acceptance date: 2011-04-10
Online publication date: 2012-10-08
Publication date: 2013-02-28
Arch Med Sci 2013;9(1):68-73
Introduction: Adrenal insufficiency (AI) has a great impact on the prognosis of patients with traumatic brain injury. There is a lack of consensus regarding the diagnostic criteria of AI. In these patients with acute stress we compared fasting cortisol, low and high dose cosyntropin stimulation tests to assess adrenal function in patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.
Material and methods: This multicenter, cross-sectional study recruited 50 consecutive patients (aged between 15 and 70 years old) with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury who survived more than 5 days after the event. The patients’ adrenal function was assessed using the fasting cortisol, 1 and 250-µg ACTH stimulation tests.
Results: More cases of AI were detected by the 1-µg ACTH stimulation test compared to those detected by the basal serum cortisol level and 250-µg ACTH stimulation test. The k test showed no agreement between these tests. The incidence of AI in the first 10 days after traumatic brain injury varied from 34% to 82% according to the various definitions of AI. The incidence of hypotension and need for vasopressors was higher in the patients diagnosed by the 250-µg ACTH stimulation test (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The incidence of secondary AI in moderate to severe traumatic brain injury seems to be high. A combination of stimulation test (either 250 or 1 µg) and basal cortisol level may improve diagnostic ability compared to either test alone. Hence performing both tests for the assessment of adrenal function in patients with traumatic brain injury is recommended.
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