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  • Author or Editor: Valerie R. Moser x
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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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association