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Keywords:

  • Canine;
  • Critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency;
  • Hypotension;
  • Septic;
  • Systemic inflammatory response syndrome

Background:A syndrome of relative adrenal insufficiency has been identified in septic humans, and is associated with hypotension and death. Relative adrenal insufficiency is generally associated with basal serum cortisol concentration within or above the reference range and a blunted cortisol response to adrenocorticotropic hormone administration. It is unknown whether relative adrenal insufficiency occurs in septic dogs.

Hypothesis:That relative adrenal insufficiency occurs in septic dogs, and that relative adrenal insufficiency is associated with hypotension and mortality.

Animals:Thirty-three septic dogs admitted to a small animal intensive care unit.

Methods:Dogs were included in the study if they had a known or suspected infectious disease and had systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Dogs were excluded if they had disease or medication history expected to affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Serum cortisol and endogenous plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone concentrations were measured before, and serum cortisol concentration measured 1 hour after, intramuscular administration of 250 μg of cosyntropin/dog. The change in cortisol concentration (β-cortisol) before and after cosyntropin administration was determined in each dog.

Results:Hypotension was associated with lower A-cortisol values (OR 1.3; CI 1.0–1.9; P= .029). A-Cortisol cutoff of 3.0 μg/dL was most accurate for predicting hypotension, survival to discharge, and 28-day survival. The rate of death in dogs with A-cortisol ≤3 μg/dL was 4.1 times that of dogs with A-cortisol > 3 μg/dL (RR 4.1; CI 1.5–12.3; P= .01).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: β-cortisol ≤3 μg/dL after adrenocorticotropic hormone administration is associated with systemic hypotension and decreased survival in septic dogs.