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EFFECT OF GLUCOCORTICOID ADMINISTRATION ON ADRENAL GLAND SIZE AND SONOGRAPHIC APPEARANCE IN BEAGLE DOGS

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Pascaline Pey, at the above address. E-mail: Pascaline.Pey@UGent.be

Abstract

Our aim was to evaluate the influence of glucocorticoids on the adrenal gland using ultrasonography. Eleven healthy beagles were used in a prospective placebo-controlled study. All dogs received hydrocortisone at 10 mg/kg twice a day per os for 4 months or a gelatin capsule twice a day per os as a placebo. Clinical and endocrinologic examination of the dogs and ultrasonographic evaluation of adrenal echogenicity, shape, and measurement of the length and height of the cranial and caudal pole were performed at baseline (T0), at 1 (T1) and 4 months (T4) after the beginning of treatment, and 2 months after the end of the treatment including 1 month of tapering and 1 month without treatment (T6). The dogs were assigned randomly to the glucocorticoid (n = 6) and placebo groups (n = 5). At T1, the difference between the two groups for the height of the cranial and caudal pole was not ultrasonographically remarkable despite a statistically significant difference (P = 0.0165 and P = 0.0206). Decreased height and length of entire gland were observed at T4 (P < 0.0001, P = 0.0015, and P = 0.0035, respectively). Percentages of atrophy were variable between dogs. Both adrenal glands regained normal size and shape 1 month after cessation of glucocorticoid administration. As not all dogs developed marked adrenal gland atrophy and the degree of atrophy varied widely between individuals, ultrasonography cannot be the technique of choice to detect iatrogenic hypercortisolism. Ultrasonographic changes are reversible within 1 month after the end of glucocorticoid administration.

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