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Allgrove (AAA) Syndrome Treatment & Management

  • Author: Robert J Ferry, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kemp, MD, PhD  more...
Updated: Dec 18, 2015

Medical Care

Glucocorticoid deficiency

Careful replacement of glucocorticoids in patients with known adrenal insufficiency is critical to avoid an adrenal crisis and to allow for normal growth in children. Growth must be closely monitored because overtreatment with glucocorticoids impairs linear growth. Providing stress doses of corticosteroids during illness or injury is also important.

Every patient should always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace and carry the emergency medical information card supplied with it.

In adult patients, as well as those who have difficulty with compliance, replacing cortisone with an equipotent dose of prednisone or dexamethasone is appropriate.

Prednisone and dexamethasone are less preferred for maintenance than hydrocortisone which has balanced 1:1 effects of mineralocorticoid vs. glucocorticoid. Also, these corticosteroids are not preferred in children due to potential for growth-suppressive effects with greater potency and longer duration of action compared to hydrocortisone.


Achalasia is best managed with surgical correction. Monitoring patients for pulmonary complications (due to reflux and aspiration) and providing gastric acid reduction therapy in patients with symptomatic reflux after surgical intervention is important.


Alacrima is managed with regular application of topical lubricants and with punctal occlusion. Children may need to be frequently reminded to use artificial tears. Children must have an annual ophthalmologic evaluation.


Surgical Care

The symptoms of alacrima improve with punctal occlusion. This procedure is only necessary when therapy with topical lubricants is unsuccessful because of poor compliance.

The symptoms of lower esophageal sphincter spasm in patients with achalasia can be ameliorated partially with pneumatic dilatation.[17] In patients who remain symptomatic after pneumatic dilatation, an anterior cardiomyotomy (modified Heller operation) may be performed. This surgical procedure involves directly cutting the muscles of the spastic sphincter. Both procedures have a risk of esophageal perforation and a high rate of postsurgical reflux.

Patients with Allgrove syndrome who undergo surgery must be treated with stress doses of glucocorticoids in the perioperative period.




A Schirmer test provides a semiquantitative measure of tearing. Other ophthalmologic testing, including slit lamp examination and fluorescein staining, is helpful in identifying patients with corneal pathology secondary to poor lacrimation.


Neurologic tests highlight a myriad of neurologic and developmental issues. Palatopharyngeal incompetence, sensory impairment, ataxia, and muscle weakness are among the documented findings.



Other than the diet changes mandated by the mechanical issues related to achalasia, no specific diet is indicated.



In a subset of patients with autonomic disturbance, some activities may need to be limited because of problems with recurring orthostatic hypotension and diminished heart rate variability. Otherwise, no specific limitations on activity are necessary.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert J Ferry, Jr, MD Professor, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Robert J Ferry, Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Endocrine Society, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Received research funds for: Eli Lilly & Co.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Barry B Bercu, MD Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, All Children's Hospital

Barry B Bercu, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Medical Association, American Pediatric Society, Association of Clinical Scientists, Endocrine Society, Florida Medical Association, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Society for Pediatric Research, Society for the Study of Reproduction, American Federation for Clinical Research, Pituitary Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Stephen Kemp, MD, PhD Former Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, Arkansas Children's Hospital

Stephen Kemp, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Pediatric Society, Endocrine Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Southern Medical Association, Southern Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Phyllis W Speiser, MD Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York; Professor of Pediatrics, Hofstra-North Shore LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University

Phyllis W Speiser, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Endocrine Society, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jacalyn Bishop, MD Pediatric Endocrinologist, Private Practice

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Bruce A Boston, MD Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Director, Pediatric Endocrine Training Program, Doernbecher Children's Hospital; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine

Bruce A Boston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Diabetes Association, Endocrine Society, and Pediatric Endocrine Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Daniel L Marks, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Oregon Health Sciences University and Doerenbecher Children's Hospital

Daniel L Marks, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics and Oregon Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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