A Bhattacharyya, J Macdonald, AA LAkhdar.
The adrenal cortex normally produces three principal steroid hormones: the glucocorticoid cortisol, the mineralocorticoid adosterone, and a small quantity of sex steroids. In primary adrenocortical insufficiency, there is a deficiency of both cortisol and aldosterone with characteristic clinical and laboratory findings.
In contrast, with a pituitary disorder there is isolated hypocortisolism, because its production is dependant on pituitary adrenocortrophic hormone (ACTH), whereas aldosterone production is controlled by extracellular fluid volume, rennin and serum potassium. Acute adrenocortical crisis is an absolute medical emergency and its presentation is not always typical.
We describe three recent cases of acute adrenocortical crisis in our hospital who presented in three different ways in three different wards.
International Journal of clinical Practice 2001;55:141-4.