Author(s): Xarli VP, Steele AA, Davis PJ, Buescher ES, Rios CN, , Xarli VP, Steele AA, Davis PJ, Buescher ES, Rios CN,
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Abstract Bilateral adrenal gland hemorrhage was found in 22 of 2,000 (1.1\%) consecutive general hospital autopsies. Clinical features of these 22 patients with diffuse or focal bilateral adrenal hemorrhage have been analyzed and compared with previous series. In our experience, patients with this postmortem finding rarely manifest features of adrenocortical insufficiency and appear instead to die as a consequence of concomitant overwhelming illness, such as septicemia, body surface burns or cardiovascular catastrophe. Two-thirds of the current series had impaired renal function at the time of adrenal hemorrhage and three patients had pituitary gland necrosis. Experimental and clinical observations indicate that the "stressed" adrenal gland--under substantive endogenous or exogenous ACTH stimulation--is unusually susceptible to hemorrhage. While our own experience indicates that bilateral adrenal hemorrhage can infrequently be implicated as a factor contributing to patients' death, the possibility of adrenocortical insufficiency must be considered in patients at risk for adrenal hemorrhage. Such patients are those who are azotemic and have bacteremia, burns, or recent cardiovascular catastrophe, particularly when the latter is managed with anticoagulant administration. In these patients, unexplained clinical deterioration or the appearance of findings consistent with adrenocortical insufficiency mandate measurement of serum cortisol concentration and institution of stress-level corticosteroid replacement therapy until a diagnosis of acute adrenocortical insufficiency can be established or refuted.
This article was published in Medicine (Baltimore)
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research