Adrenal insufficiency in hemodynamically unstable neonatesafter open-heart surgery

Xiomara Garcia, Adnan T. Bhutta, Umesh Dyamenahalli, Michiaki Imamura, Robert D B Jaquiss, Parthak Prodhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective.: To investigate if the low dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation test appropriately assesses adrenal responsiveness in neonates undergoing open-heart surgery requiring cardio-pulmonary bypass. Design.: In this retrospective study, adrenal axis response was assessed on the first post-operative day with the low-dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation test. Age, gender, weight, RACHS category, inotrope score, and baseline and post-stimulation cortisol levels were collected. The association between basal serum cortisol levels and degree of response to the ACTH stimulation test was also investigated. Setting.: Tertiary care referral center. Patients.: Twenty-one neonates who underwent neonatal cardiac surgery on cardiopulmonary bypass and underwent an ACTH stimulation test. Interventions.: Hydrocortisone 50 mg/m2 bolus in four divided doses daily. Outcome Measures.: Response to the low dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation was assessed. Results.: All neonates with hemodynamic instability in the immediate post-operative period had low basal serum cortisol levels. The basal mean serum cortisol level for the 21 patients who underwent the low dose ACTH stimulation test was 7.3 μg/dL (median 2.2, range 0.7-42). The mean serum cortisol level increased after the ACTH stimulation test in the 21 patients to 39.6 μg/dL (median 38, range 79-17). The mean inotrope score in the first 24 hours after surgery was 24 (median 17.5, range 7-76.5) and decreased to 17 (median 14, range 5-52.3) 24-48 hours after surgery. At 48 hours post-surgery the mean arterial pressure in the groups with a serum cortisol increase after ACTH stimulation (<30 μg/dL vs. >50 μg/dL) was significantly different (P value 0.026). Conclusions.: The low dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation test is a valid test to assess adrenal responsiveness among neonates after open heart surgery requiring CPB. Traditionally used basal serum cortisol level cutoff of <20 μg/dL used to define relative adrenal insufficiency may not be applicable in neonates undergoing open heart surgery on CPB thus indicating the need for re-defining adrenal insufficiency in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalCongenital Heart Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


  • ACTH Stimulation test
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Hemodynamic Instability
  • Neonates
  • Open-Heart Surgery
  • Post-Operative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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