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Dr M. Small, University Department of Medicine, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow G4 OSF.


Thromboembolic events are thought to occur with increased frequency in Cushing's syndrome due to the predisposing factors, obesity, hypertension, a raised haematocrit and major surgery plus a ‘hypercoagulable state’. To examine this postulate further we have studied 43 patients with Cushing's syndrome retrospectively and 10 patients prospectively to determine the incidence of arterial and venous thrombosis, both spontaneous and post-operative.

Arterial events were noted in four cases (9%) and deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) occurred in six cases (11%). Post-operative PTE occurred in 2-7% of all operations. These vascular complications tended to occur in the older patients with Cushing's syndrome.

In our series, clinically significant thromboembolic episodes appear no more common than expected and the indications for prophylactic anticoagulation (the older and more obese patients) may not be different from other patients undergoing major surgery. An incidental finding was of a greater frequency of hypertension in Cushing's patients due to an adrenal adenoma.

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