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Management of adrenal insufficiency during the stress of medical illness and surgery

Caroline Jung and Warrick J Inder
Med J Aust 2008; 189 (6): 350-351.
Published online: 15 September 2008

In reply: We thank Woodforth for his interest in our article.1 The cited case report2 involved a patient with panhypopituitarism who had septic arthritis following a total knee replacement, requiring knee washout. As stated by Woodforth, the patient was without glucocorticoid replacement for 5 days, during which time he underwent two surgical procedures. Symptoms of cortisol deficiency were described on Days 1 and 2 postoperatively, with overt sepsis not manifesting until Day 3. The absence of adequate glucocorticoid replacement while the patient was under a “nil oral” instruction and suffering sepsis was undoubtedly a contributory factor in his decline, given that his condition improved significantly after he had received 24 hours of intravenous hydrocortisone treatment and other supportive care. It appears that the cortisone acetate was withheld because of concerns about administering it without food, as other medications were in fact given.

  • Caroline Jung1
  • Warrick J Inder1,2

  • 1 St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


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