Adrenal Insufficiency

Brief H&P:

A 65 year-old female with a history of hypertension, hyperlipidemia and rheumatoid arthritis presents with generalized weakness and nausea/vomiting for 3 days. She denies fever, focal weakness, numbness or speech difficulty.

HPA Axis

HPA Axis

Vital signs were notable for hypotension (72/48mmHg), her examination revealed diffuse weakness but no focal deficits and her abdominal examination was unremarkable. Laboratory tests were notable for hyponatremia (117 mEq/L) and new renal dysfunction. She received 2L of intravenous fluids but remained hypotensive.

Additional history revealed that the patient had been out of her home medications (including prednisone) for the past 1 week. Samples for laboratory tests (cortisol, ACTH) were drawn and she was treated with hydrocortisone 100mg IV with subsequent improvement in blood pressure – she was admitted to the ICU for adrenal crisis.

An Algorithm for the Evaluation and Management of Adrenal Insufficiency and Crisis

Algorithm for the Evaluation and Management of Adrenal Insufficiency and Crisis

Special thanks to Dr. Katrin Takenaka, Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine and Dr. Reem Al-Dallal, Assistant Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine – McGovern Medical School for their expertise and review of this algorithm.


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