Relative Adrenal Insufficiency in Etomidate-Naive Patients with Septic Shock

D. Jones, M. Hayes, Steve Webb, C. French, R. Bellomo

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    Abstract

    A recent study reported that 77% of patients with septic shock had relative adrenal insufficiency. However, all patients were mechanically ventilated and received high-dose inotropes. In addition, at least 24% had prior exposure to etomidate, a drug known to suppress adrenal function. We studied the incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency in etomidate-naive patients with septic shock by analysing the adrenal response to high-dose short synacthen test in 113 consecutive patients from three university-affiliated intensive care units in Australia. Patients were allocated to three groups according to severity of illness and inclusion criteria of the trial of low dose hydrocortisone supplementation using information from patient records.Of the 113 patients, 98 had septic shock (Group A). The incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency in this sub-population was 24.5%. Eighty-one per cent of patients with septic shock were mechanically ventilated (Group B). In this group, the incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency was 27.8%. Only 38 of the 98 patients with septic shock (39%) fulfilled inclusion criteria for the steroid supplementation trial (Group C). In this group, the incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency was only 34.2%. In all groups its presence was associated with a higher mortality.We conclude that the incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency in etomidate-naive septic shock patients was lower than observed in the steroid supplementation trial. Further, in those who fulfilled inclusion criteria for the trial, the incidence of relative adrenal insufficiency was half that reported by the trial. Our observations raise concerns about the generalizability of the findings of the above trial to etomidate-naive patients.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)599-605
    JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
    Volume34
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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