Article Text

Use of ACTH stimulation tests to monitor the treatment of canine hyperadrenocorticism
  1. KJ Dunn,
  2. ME Herrtage and
  3. JK Dunn
  1. Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge.


The case histories of 60 dogs with hyperadrenocorticism were reviewed. Fifty-four of the dogs were treated with mitotane at a mean daily dose rate of 48.8 mg/kg (range 25.6 to 84 mg/kg) for between four and 21 days. The mean weekly maintenance dose of mitotane was 48.8 mg/kg. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test was performed before the treatment began, and in 30 cases at the end of the induction course, and the response to ACTH was measured at regular intervals thereafter. Nine of the treated dogs developed complete hypoadrenocorticism during treatment and required permanent mineralocorticoid replacement therapy. Twelve of the dogs had normal responses to an ACTH stimulation test before treatment, and the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism was based on the result of a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test. These 12 dogs had consistently lower cortisol levels before and after stimulation with ACTH and four of them developed complete hypoadrenocorticism. In general the clinical signs were well controlled when the cortisol levels were less than 105 nmol/litre before and after the stimulation test. Dogs in which the clinical signs recurred had cortisol levels between 210 and 580 nmol/litre after the test, a level which is within the normal pretreatment range. Twenty-seven of the treated dogs died and six of these deaths were attributable directly to the disease or therapy. The median survival time of the 54 treated dogs was 30 months; eight dogs died during the first 16 weeks of treatment, and the dogs which survived this period had a median survival time of 39 months (mean 50 months).

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