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  • Author or Editor: Kathy C. Hickey x
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Objective—To determine the lowest of 5 doses of cosyntropin (1.0, 0.5, 0.1, 0.05, or 0.01 μg/kg) administered IV that stimulates maximal cortisol secretion in clinically normal dogs.

Animals—10 clinically normal dogs.

Procedures—5 dose-response experiments were performed in each of the dogs. Each dog received 5 doses of cosyntropin (1.0, 0.5, 0.1, 0.05, and 0.01 μg/kg) IV in random order (2-week interval between each dose). Serum samples for determination of cortisol concentrations were obtained before (baseline) and at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 minutes after cosyntropin administration.

Results—Compared with baseline values, mean serum cortisol concentration in the study dogs increased significantly after administration of each of the 5 cosyntropin doses. Mean peak serum cortisol concentration was significantly lower after administration of 0.01, 0.05, and 0.1 μg of cosyntropin/kg, compared with findings after administration of 0.5 and 1.0 μg of cosyntropin/kg. After administration of 0.5 and 1.0 μg of cosyntropin/kg, mean peak serum cortisol concentration did not differ significantly; higher doses of cosyntropin resulted in more sustained increases in serum cortisol concentration, and peak response developed after a longer interval.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Administration of cosyntropin IV at a dose of 0.5 μg/kg induced maximal cortisol secretion in healthy dogs. Serum cortisol concentration was reliably increased in all dogs after the administration of each of the 5 doses of cosyntropin. These data should be useful in subsequent studies to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy and critically ill dogs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To evaluate pituitary-adrenal function in critically ill dogs with sepsis, severe trauma, and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—31 ill dogs admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) at Washington State University or the University of Pennsylvania; all dogs had acute critical illness for < 48 hours prior to admission.

Procedures—Baseline and ACTH-stimulated serum cortisol concentrations and baseline plasma ACTH concentrations were assayed for each dog within 24 hours after admission to the ICU. The change in cortisol concentrations (Δ-cortisol) was calculated for each dog. Morbidity and mortality data were recorded for each patient.

Results—Overall, 17 of 31 (55%) acutely critically ill dogs had at least 1 biochemical abnormality suggestive of adrenal gland or pituitary gland insufficiency. Only 1 (3%) dog had an exaggerated response to ACTH stimulation. Dogs with Δ-cortisol ≤ 83 nmol/L were 5.7 times as likely to be receiving vasopressors as were dogs with Δ-cortisol > 83 nmol/L. No differences were detected among dogs with sepsis, severe trauma, or GDV with respect to mean baseline and ACTH-stimulated serum cortisol concentrations, Δ-cortisol, and baseline plasma ACTH concentrations.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Biochemical abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis indicative of adrenal gland or pituitary gland insufficiency were common in critically ill dogs, whereas exaggerated responses to ACTH administration were uncommon. Acutely ill dogs with Δ-cortisol ≤ 83 nmol/L may be more likely to require vasopressors as part of the treatment plan.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association