Canine hyperadrenocorticism

Canine hyperadrenocorticism
Peer reviewed


Hyperadrenocorticism is a common endocrinopathy which results from the excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal cortex. In the majority of cases, this increased secretion of cortisol results from stimulation of the adrenal cortex by adrenocorticotrophic hormone secreted from the pituitary gland. In a smaller number of cases adrenal tumours are present. Clinical signs are variable but commonly include polydipsia and polyuria, polyphagia, obesity, a pendulous abdomen, hepatomegaly, alopecia, lethargy, weakness and anoestrus. Haematology, serum chemistry analysis and urinalysis should be performed on a dog with suspected hyperadrenocorticism. Finding a significant number of changes that are consistent with hyperadrenocorticism often allows a presumptive diagnosis to be made. Other tests can then be used to confirm the diagnosis and to help localise the cause, including liver biopsy, radiology, ultrasonography, gamma camera imaging, computed tomography, and measurement of blood and urine hormone levels. The ACTH stimulation test, low dose dexamethasone suppression test and measurement of the urine cortisol:creatinine ratio are used to assess whether hyperadrenocorticism is present. The high dose dexamethasone suppression test, measurement of plasma ACTH, corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test, and a modification of the urinary cortisol:creatinine ratio test are then implemented to determine the aetiology. The treatment of choice for adrenal neoplasia is surgical removal of the affected adrenal. On the other hand, pituitary hyperplasia or neoplasia may be treated either surgically, by bilateral adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy, or medically. The drug which is chosen most commonly for medical management is 1,1-dichloro-2(O-chlorophenyl)-2-(P-chlorophenyl) ethane (op`-DDD), which can be used to suppress adrenal function or to completely destroy the adrenal cortex. The antifungal agent ketoconazole also suppresses adrenal steroid synthesis and provides an alternative form of medical treatment for hyperadrenocorticoid dogs.

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