PROCEDURES Blood samples were obtained before and at completion of surgery. Serum cortisol and aldosterone and plasma cACTH concentrations were measured by use of validated radioimmunoassays. Changes in concentrations (postoperative concentration minus preoperative concentration) were calculated. Data were analyzed by use of the Wilcoxon signed rank test, Pearson correlation analysis, and Mann-Whitney rank sum test.
RESULTS Cortisol, aldosterone, and cACTH concentrations increased significantly from before to after surgery. Although cortisol and aldosterone concentrations increased in almost all dogs, cACTH concentrations decreased in 6 of 32 (19%) dogs. All dogs had preoperative cortisol concentrations within the reference range, but 24 of 39 (62%) dogs had postoperative concentrations above the reference range. A correlation between the change in cACTH concentration and the change in cortisol concentration was not detected.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Laparotomy caused a significant increase in serum cortisol and aldosterone concentrations. In most dogs, but not all dogs, plasma cACTH concentrations increased. Lack of correlation between the change in cACTH concentration and the change in cortisol concentration suggested that increased postoperative cortisol concentrations may have been attributable to ACTH-independent mechanisms, an early ACTH increase that caused a sustained cortisol release, or decreased cortisol clearance. Further studies are indicated to evaluate the effects of various anesthetic protocols and minimally invasive surgical techniques on the stress response.