Endogenous Cushing Syndrome Differential Diagnoses

Updated: May 09, 2017
  • Author: Ha Cam Thuy Nguyen, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Diagnosis of Cushing syndrome can sometimes be very challenging, especially in cases of pseudo-Cushing, subclinical, mild or cyclic Cushing syndrome.

A pseudo-Cushing is defined as having some of the clinical features and biochemical evidence of Cushing syndrome. However, resolution of the primary condition results in disappearance of the cushingoid features and biochemical abnormalities.

In patients who chronically abuse alcohol, clinical and biochemical findings suggestive of Cushing syndrome are often encountered. Discontinuation of alcohol causes disappearance of these abnormalities, and, therefore, this syndrome is often specifically referred to as alcohol-induced pseudo-Cushing syndrome. Patients with depression often have perturbation of the HPA axis, with abnormal cortisol hypersecretion. These patients rarely develop clinical Cushing syndrome. Because excess glucocorticoids can lead to emotional liability and depression, distinguishing between depression and mild Cushing syndrome is often a diagnostic challenge.

See Pseudo-Cushing Syndrome. 

Differential Diagnoses