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M Terzolo, A Ali, G Osella, G Reimondo, A Pia, P Peretti, P Paccotti and A Angeli

OBJECTIVE: Owing to their increasing rate of discovery as incidental findings, the characterization of adrenal masses is an important diagnostic problem which frequently challenges the clinician's skill. DESIGN: The results of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) measurement were evaluated in a consecutive series of 107 patients with an adrenal mass (39 men, 68 women aged 15-81 years, median 56 years). DHEAS levels observed in the patients were categorized as reduced, normal or elevated according to sex- and age-adjusted reference ranges obtained by measuring DHEAS in 214 healthy women and 142 healthy men aged 17-93 years. The working hypothesis was that a low DHEAS level is a marker of benignity. METHODS: In 84 patients, the adrenal mass was discovered serendipitously, while in the remainder the mass was clinically symptomatic. Patients with known extra-adrenal malignancies were excluded. The adrenal masses were categorized as benign or malignant by computerized tomography (CT) criteria. All patients with suspected malignant tumors or with overtly hypersecreting tumors underwent adrenalectomy. The patients with a presumptive benign tumor were followed-up for at least 12 months. RESULTS: In the overall series, the sensitivity and specificity of a low DHEAS level in the identification of a benign lesion were 41% and 100% respectively. Superimposable figures were obtained when considering only adrenal incidentalomas. DHEAS levels in adrenal cancers displayed some overlap with adrenal adenomas, but in only 2/11 adrenal cancers were DHEAS levels normal, while they were elevated in the remainder. CONCLUSIONS: The present data suggest that DHEAS measurement may help to differentiate benign from malignant adrenal masses as a complementary test of CT in a clinical research setting. The value of DHEAS measurement in general practice is limited because it may be difficult to differentiate between low and low-normal values, particularly in the elderly.

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M Terzolo, B Allasino, A Pia, G Peraga, F Daffara, F Laino, A Ardito, A Termine, P Paccotti, P Berchialla, G Migliaretti and G Reimondo

Objective

Recent studies have questioned the reversibility of complications of Cushing's syndrome (CS) after successful surgical treatment. The aim of this study was to assess the outcome of patients with CS who achieved disease remission compared with those patients with persistent hypercortisolism and matched controls.

Design

A retrospective study of 75 patients with CS followed at an academic center.

Methods

Cardiovascular risk profile was evaluated in 51 patients with CS in remission (group 1) and 24 patients with persistent disease (group 2) and compared with 60 controls. Mortality of patients with CS was compared with the background population.

Results

In group 1, the frequency of cardiovascular risk factors dropped after disease remission even if it remained higher at the last follow-up than in the control group. In group 2, the frequency of cardiovascular risk factors remained unchanged during follow-up. The rate of cardiovascular and thromboembolic events was higher in group 2 than in group 1, as was the mortality rate (two deaths in group 1 and nine in group 2; ratio of two SMRs, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.011–0.512). Survival was significantly longer in group 1 than in group 2 (87 months, 80–98 vs 48 months, 38–62; P<0.0001).

Conclusions

Successful surgical treatment of hypercortisolism significantly improves cardiovascular risk and may reduce the mortality rate. Patients with persistent disease have increased morbidity and mortality when compared with patients in remission.

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M Terzolo, A Stigliano, I Chiodini, P Loli, L Furlani, G Arnaldi, G Reimondo, A Pia, V Toscano, M Zini, G Borretta, E Papini, P Garofalo, B Allolio, B Dupas, F Mantero and A Tabarin

Objective

To assess currently available evidence on adrenal incidentaloma and provide recommendations for clinical practice.

Design

A panel of experts (appointed by the Italian Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AME)) appraised the methodological quality of the relevant studies, summarized their results, and discussed the evidence reports to find consensus.

Radiological assessment

Unenhanced computed tomography (CT) is recommended as the initial test with the use of an attenuation value of ≤10 Hounsfield units (HU) to differentiate between adenomas and non-adenomas. For tumors with a higher baseline attenuation value, we suggest considering delayed contrast-enhanced CT studies. Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/CT should be considered when CT is inconclusive, whereas fine needle aspiration biopsy may be used only in selected cases suspicious of metastases (after biochemical exclusion of pheochromocytoma).

Hormonal assessment

Pheochromocytoma and excessive overt cortisol should be ruled out in all patients, whereas primary aldosteronism has to be considered in hypertensive and/or hypokalemic patients. The 1 mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test is the test recommended for screening of subclinical Cushing's syndrome (SCS) with a threshold at 138 nmol/l for considering this condition. A value of 50 nmol/l virtually excludes SCS with an area of uncertainty between 50 and 138 nmol/l.

Management

Surgery is recommended for masses with suspicious radiological aspects and masses causing overt catecholamine or steroid excess. Data are insufficient to make firm recommendations for or against surgery in patients with SCS. However, adrenalectomy may be considered when an adequate medical therapy does not reach the treatment goals of associated diseases potentially linked to hypercortisolism.

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Emanuele Ferrante, Monica Ferraroni, Tristana Castrignanò, Laura Menicatti, Mascia Anagni, Giuseppe Reimondo, Patrizia Del Monte, Donatella Bernasconi, Paola Loli, Marco Faustini-Fustini, Giorgio Borretta, Massimo Terzolo, Marco Losa, Alberto Morabito, Anna Spada, Paolo Beck-Peccoz and Andrea G Lania

Objective: The long-term outcome of non-functioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA) patients is not clearly established, probably due to the low annual incidence and prolonged natural history of these rare tumors. The aim of this study was to evaluate clinical data at presentation and long-term post-surgery and radiotherapy outcome in a cohort of patients with NFPA.

Design and methods: A computerized database was developed using Access 2000 software (Microsoft Corporation, 1999). Retrospective registration of 295 NFPA patients was performed in seven Endocrinological Centers of North West Italy. Data were analyzed by STATA software.

Results: The main presenting symptoms were visual defects (67.8%) and headache (41.4%) and the most frequent pituitary deficit was hypogonadism (43.3%), since almost all tumors were macroadenomas (96.5%). Surgery was the first choice treatment (98% of patients) and total debulking was achieved in 35.5%. Radiotherapy was performed as adjuvant therapy after surgery in 41% of patients. At the follow-up, recurrence occurred in 19.2% of patients without post-surgical residual tumor after 7.5 ± 2.6 years, regrowth in 58.4% of patients with post-surgical remnant after 5.3 ± 4.0 years and residue enlargement in 18.4% of patients post-surgically treated with radiotherapy after 8.1 ± 7.3 years.

Conclusions: Our database indicates that the goal of a definitive surgical cure has been achieved during the last decade in a low percentage of patients with NFPA. This tumor database may help to reduce the delay between symptom onset and diagnosis, to assess prognostic parameters for the follow-up of patients with different risk of recurrence and to define the efficacy and safety of different treatments and their association with mortality/morbidity.

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M Arosio, G Reimondo, E Malchiodi, P Berchialla, A Borraccino, L De Marinis, R Pivonello, S Grottoli, M Losa, S Cannavò, F Minuto, M Montini, M Bondanelli, E De Menis, C Martini, G Angeletti, A Velardo, A Peri, M Faustini-Fustini, P Tita, F Pigliaru, G Borretta, C Scaroni, N Bazzoni, A Bianchi, M Appetecchia, F Cavagnini, G Lombardi, E Ghigo, P Beck-Peccoz, A Colao, M Terzolo and for the Italian Study Group of Acromegaly

Objective

To describe demographic and hormonal characteristics, comorbidities (diabetes mellitus and hypertension), therapeutic procedures and their effectiveness, as well as predictors of morbidity and mortality in a nationwide survey of Italian acromegalic patients.

Design

Retrospective multicenter epidemiological study endorsed by the Italian Society of Endocrinology and performed in 24 tertiary referral Italian centers. The mean follow-up time was 120 months.

Results

A total of 1512 patients, 41% male, mean age: 45±13 years, mean GH: 31±37 μg/l, IGF1: 744±318 ng/ml, were included. Diabetes mellitus was reported in 16% of cases and hypertension in 33%. Older age and higher IGF1 levels at diagnosis were significant predictors of diabetes and hypertension. At the last follow-up, 65% of patients had a controlled disease, of whom 55% were off medical therapy. Observed deaths were 61, with a standardized mortality ratio of 1.13 95% (confidence interval (CI): 0.87–1.46). Mortality was significantly higher in the patients with persistently active disease (1.93; 95% CI: 1.34–2.70). Main causes of death were vascular diseases and malignancies with similar prevalence. A multivariate analysis showed that older age, higher GH at the last follow-up, higher IGF1 levels at diagnosis, malignancy, and radiotherapy were independent predictors of mortality.

Conclusions

Pretreatment IGF1 levels are important predictors of morbidity and mortality in acromegaly. The full hormonal control of the disease, nowadays reached in the majority of patients with modern management, reduces greatly the disease-related mortality.