Skip to Main Content

++

You are taking care of a 35-year-old man with Crohn’s disease. His symptoms were somewhat controlled with 30 mg of oral prednisone daily, but he developed a chronic, long-segment ileal stricture that required an open ileocolectomy with primary anastomosis. You are writing his postoperative orders.

++
++
++

1. What is the mechanism of acute adrenal insufficiency?

++
++

2. Should you have given him a “stress” dosage of steroids at the start of the case? Why or why not?

++

Perioperative Corticosteroids

++
Answers
++

  1. In patients who are glucocorticosteroid dependent, insufficient amounts of corticosteroids or cortisol resistance during critical illness may lead to secondary adrenal insufficiency with eventual hypotension, shock, and death. The pathophysiological mechanism for this hypotension cascade is not entirely clear, but is likely due to enhanced prostacyclin production and its subsequent vasodilatory effects leading to hypotension and shock.

  2. As a general rule of thumb, any patient who has received at least 20 mg of prednisone or its glucocorticoid equivalent (see Table 41-1) for greater than 5 days is at risk for hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis suppression. Inhaled glucocorticoids may or may not cause HPA suppression. Patients who are on lower dosages of glucocorticoids may require at least a month to develop HPA suppression. Following tapering of glucocorticoid therapy, it may take patients a year or longer to resume normal HPA axis responses with pituitary function being the first to normalize. If you are uncertain and time permits, these patients are often referred to an endocrinologist for an ACTH stimulation test to see if they secrete normal amounts of cortisol in response to ACTH.

    Because this patient was chronically on 30 mg of prednisone, he should receive stress dose steroids postoperatively.

  3. Although the actual incidence of adrenal insufficiency due to lack of exogenous glucocorticoids is likely low, it is a highly preventable cause of morbidity/mortality.

    The risk of secondary adrenal insufficiency in glucocorticoid-dependent patients is directly related to the duration and severity of the surgical procedure. Relatively minor procedures that are less than 1 hour long or can be done under local anesthetic have a low degree of physiological stress. A dose of hydrocortisone of 25 mg or its equivalent is a sufficient “stress dosage” for minor procedures. For moderate-stress procedures such as peripheral bypass surgery or a straightforward small bowel resection and anastomosis a dose of 50 to 100 mg of hydrocortisone should be given intravenously prior to or at the time of skin incision. Finally, for high-stress procedures such as a total proctocolectomy or cardiac bypass procedure, a stress dose of 100 mg of hydrocortisone should be given at the start of the procedure.

  4. For minor procedures, the patient should take his or her normal dosage of steroids the morning of surgery and then resume the normal home dosage postoperatively. For moderate-stress procedures, patients should receive 25 mg of hydrocortisone intravenously every 8 ...

Want remote access to your institution's subscription?

Sign in to your MyAccess profile while you are actively authenticated on this site via your institution (you will be able to verify this by looking at the top right corner of the screen - if you see your institution's name, you are authenticated). Once logged in to your MyAccess profile, you will be able to access your institution's subscription for 90 days from any location. You must be logged in while authenticated at least once every 90 days to maintain this remote access.

Ok

About MyAccess

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess profile, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessSurgery Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessSurgery content and resources including more than 160 instructional videos, 16,000+ high-quality images, interactive board review, 20+ textbooks, and more.

$995 USD
Buy Now

Pay Per View: Timed Access to all of AccessSurgery

24 Hour Subscription $34.95

Buy Now

48 Hour Subscription $54.95

Buy Now

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.