Acute adrenocortical crisis: three different presentations.

Case report


Bhattacharyya A, Macdonald J, Lakhdar AA.

Department of Medicine, Preston Acute Hospital NHS Trust, Preston, Lancs.

Int J Clin Pract. 2001 Mar;55(2):141-4.


The adrenal cortex normally produces three principal steroid hormones: the glucocorticoid cortisol, the mineralocorticoid aldosterone, and a small quantity of sex steroids. In primary adrenocortical insufficiency, there is a deficiency of both cortisol and aldosterone with characteristic clinical and laboratory findings. In contrast, with a pituitary disorder there is isolated hypocortisolism, because its production is dependent on pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), whereas aldosterone production is controlled by extracellular fluid volume, renin and serum potassium. Acute adrenocortical crisis is an absolute medical emergency and its presentation is not always typical. We describe three recent cases of acute adrenocortical crisis in our hospital who presented in three different ways in three different wards.

Keywords: Acute adrenocortical crisis: three different presentations.