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A Kopczak, F von Rosen, C Krewer, H J Schneider, G K Stalla, and M Schneider


The insulin tolerance test (ITT) is the gold standard for the diagnosis of GH deficiency (GHD) and hypocortisolism. As hypopituitarism is a common disorder after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), the test is increasingly used in patients with pre-existing brain damage.


A cross-sectional, observational study.


Fifty-six patients (41 TBI and 15 SAH) were tested with the ITT (0.15 IE/kg body weight, mean glucose 33 mg/dl). In 38 patients, the test was performed in a supine position; the other 18 patients were in a sitting position during the ITT.


Hypocortisolism and GHD were more often diagnosed in a supine than in a sitting position (hypocortisolism: 55.3% supine versus 0% sitting, P<0.0001; GHD: 42.1% supine versus 11.1% sitting, P=0.03). Patients in a sitting position suffered more often from symptoms such as tachycardia (61.1% sitting versus 15.8% supine, P=0.001), trembling (22.2 vs 7.9%, NS), and sweating (66.7 vs 28.9%, P=0.007). There were no significant differences between the groups in drowsiness (72.2% sitting versus 65.8% supine, NS), dizziness (44.4 vs 44.7%, NS), and fatigue (33.3 vs 15.8%, NS). Because of somnolence, the hypoglycemic state could only be stopped with i.v. administration of glucose in 25 supine patients (66%). In contrast, none of the 18 patients (0%) tested in a sitting position got somnolent or was in need of i.v. application of glucose (P<0.001).


In patients with brain injury, posture might affect rates of diagnosing GHD and hypocortisolism and sympathetic symptoms in the ITT. These findings are exploratory and need replication in a standardized setting.

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H J Schneider, B L Herrmann, M Schneider, C Sievers, L Schaaf, and G K Stalla

Objective: Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at moderate risk of GH deficiency (GHD), requiring a diagnostic test with high specificity. The GHRH + arginine (GHRH + ARG) test has been recommended as a reliable alternative to the insulin-tolerance test (ITT) as a standard test with a cutoff level of 9 ng/ml. However, it has recently been questioned for its low specificity in obese subjects, and now BMI-dependent cut-off levels are available. In this study, we compared the ITT and GHRH + ARG test in patients with TBI.

Design: A cross-sectional study

Methods: We performed an ITT and a GHRH + ARG test in 21 patients with TBI (6 women, 15 men; mean age 40.2 ± 12.1 years; BMI 30.7 ± 6.2). The number of patients classified discordantly as GH deficient by the ITT and the GHRH + ARG test with both classical and BMI-dependent cut-off levels was assessed.

Results: Using the GHRH + ARG test with the classical cut-off (≤ 9 ng/ml), we identified 12 patients as GH deficient who had a normal GH response to ITT (> 3 ng/ml), and one patient as GH sufficient who had a blunted GH response to ITT (discordance rate 61.9%). All patients discordantly classified as GH deficient by the GHRH + ARG test had a BMI of ≥ 28. With the BMI-dependent cut-offs (4.2, 8.0, and 11.5 ng/ml in obese, overweight, and lean subjects respectively), only 3 of the 21 patients were discordantly classified (discordance rate 14.3%).

Conclusions: Our results discourage the use of a cut-off level of 9 ng/ml for the GHRH + ARG test in obese subjects. The diagnostic reliability of this test is improved with the BMI-dependent cut-offs.

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H J Schneider, M Schneider, B Saller, S Petersenn, M Uhr, B Husemann, F von Rosen, and G K Stalla

Objective: Cross-sectional studies report a high prevalence of hypopituitarism after traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, no longitudinal studies on time of manifestation and reversibility exist. This study was conducted to assess hypopituitarism 3 and 12 months after TBI.

Design: This was a prospective, longitudinal, diagnostic study.

Methods: Seventy-eight patients (52 men, 26 women, mean age 36.0 years) with TBI grades I–III and 38 healthy subjects (25 men, 13 women, mean age 36.4 years) as a control group for the GHRH + arginine test were studied. The prevalence ofhypopituitarism was assessed 3 and 12 months after TBI by GHRH + arginine test, short adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) test, and basal hormone measurements in patients.

Results: After 3 months, 56% of all patients had impairments of at least one pituitary axis with axes being affected as follows: gonadotropic 32%, corticotropic 19%, somatotropic 9% and thyrotropic 8%. After 12 months, fewer patients were affected, but in some cases new impairments occurred; 36% still had impairments. The axes were affected as follows after 12 months: gonadotropic 21%, somatotropic 10%, corticotropic 9% and thyrotropic 3%.

Conclusions: Hypopituitarism occurs often in the post-acute phase after TBI and may normalize later, but may also develop after the post-acute phase of TBI.

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