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  1. Personal Stories: From my bio: (At the NIH in October 1987) The MRI still showed nothing, so they did a Petrosal Sinus Sampling Test. That scared me more than the prospect of surgery. (This test carries the risk of stroke and uncontrollable bleeding from the incision points.) Catheters were fed from my groin area to my pituitary gland and dye was injected. I could watch the whole procedure on monitors. I could not move during this test or for several hours afterwards to prevent uncontrollable bleeding from a major artery. The test did show where the tumor probably was located. Also done were more sophisticated dexamethasone suppression tests where drugs were administered by IV and blood was drawn every hour (they put a heplock in my arm so they don't have to keep sticking me). I got to go home for a weekend and then went back for the surgery... _____ From Karen's Story: https://cushingsbios.com/2016/11/18/doc-karen-pituitary-and-bla-bio/ At that time, there was evidence of a pit tumor but it wasn’t showing up on an MRI. So, I had my IPSS scheduled. An IPSS stands for Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. It is done because 60 % of Cushing’s based pituitary tumors are so small that they do not show up on an MRI. Non Cushing’s experts do not know this so they often blow patients off, even after the labs show a high level of ACTH in the brain through blood work. An overproduction of the hormone ACTH from the pituitary communicates to the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. Well, the IPSS procedure is where they put catheters up through your groin through your body up into your head to draw samples to basically see which side of your pituitary the extra hormone is coming from, thus indicating where the tumor is. U of C is the only place in IL that does it. ... I was scheduled to get an IPSS at U of C on June 28th, 2011 to locate the tumor. Two days after the IPSS, I began having spontaneous blackouts and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. The docs out here had no clue what was happening and I was having between 4-7 blackouts a day! My life was in danger and they were not helping me! We don’t know why, but the IPSS triggered something! But, no one wanted to be accountable so they told me the passing out, which I was not doing before, was all in my head being triggered by psychological issues. They did run many tests. But, they were all the wrong tests. I say all the time; it’s like going into Subway and ordering a turkey sandwich and giving them money and getting a tuna sandwich. You would be mad! What if they told you, “We gave you a sandwich!” Even if they were to give you a dozen sandwiches; if it wasn’t turkey, it wouldn’t be the right one. This is how I feel about these tests that they ran and said were all “normal”. The doctors kept telling us that they ran all of these tests so they could cover themselves. Yet, they were not looking at the right things, even though, I (the patient) kept telling them that this was an endocrine issue and had something to do with my tumor! Well, guess how good God is?!!!! ... Fast forward, I ended up in the hospital with these blackouts after my IPSS. The doctors, including MY local endocrinologist told me there was no medical evidence for my blackouts. In fact, he told the entire treatment team that he even doubted if I even had a tumor! However, this is the same man who referred me for the IPSS in the first place! I was literally dying and no one was helping me! We reached out to Dr. Ludlam in Seattle and told him of the situation. He told me he knew exactly what was going on. For some reason, there was a change in my brain tumor activity that happened after my IPSS. No one, to this day, has been able to answer the question as to whether the IPSS caused the change in tumor activity. The tumor, for some reason, began shutting itself on and off. When it would shut off, my cortisol would drop and would put me in a state of adrenal insufficiency, causing these blackouts! Dr. Ludlam said as soon as we were discharged, we needed to fly out to Seattle so that he could help me! The hospital discharged me in worse condition then when I came in. I had a blackout an hour after discharge! But get this…The DAY the hospital sent me home saying that I did not have a pit tumor, my IPSS results were waiting for me! EVIDENCE OF TUMOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY PITUITARY GLAND!!! _____ From Kirsty: https://cushingsbios.com/2013/06/25/kirsty-kirstymnz-ectopic-adrenal-bio/ The hardest of all these was what they call a petrusal vein sampling (this is where they insert a catheter into the groin through the femoral vein which goes up to the base of the brain to look at the pituitary, they do this while awake – I could actually feel them moving around in my head.) This test concluded that my Cushing’s was being caused by a tumor somewhere other than the pituitary (this only happens in 1% of cases, and there is about a 1 in 10 million chance of getting it). The question now was “where is the tumor?” _____ Find other bios with which mention this test at https://cushingsbios.com/tag/ipss/ __________ This topic on these message boards: https://cushings.invisionzone.com/forum/54-css-ct-ipss-ivp-mri-np-59-scan-octreoscan-pss-sonogram-ultrasound/ __________ Thoughts from Dr. James Findling: https://cushieblogger.com/2019/03/24/cushings-syndrome-expert-a-standout-in-clinical-practice/ Another defining moment in my career from a research perspective was when I was a fellow, I had to do a project. We were seeing a lot of patients with Cushing’s — of course, that’s why I went there — and in those days we had no good imaging. There were no CT scans, no MRI, there was no way to image the pituitary gland to find out whether there was a tumor. By the late ’70s it became obvious that some patients with Cushing’s syndrome didn’t have pituitary tumors. They had tumors in their lungs and other places, and there was no good way of sorting these patients from the pituitary patients. My mentor at UCSF, Blake Tyrrell, MD, had the idea of sampling from the jugular vein to see if there was a gradient across the pituitary. I took the project up because I didn’t think this is going to be helpful due to there being too much venous admixture in the jugular vein from other sources of cerebral venous drainage. We went into the radiology suite to do the first patient. As I was sampling blood from the peripheral veins, the interventional radiologist, David Norman, MD, says, “Would you like to sample the inferior petrosal sinus?” I said, “Why not? It sounds like a good idea to me.” That turned out to be helpful. We then studied several patients, and it eventually went to publication. Now everybody acknowledges it is necessary, maybe not in all patients with Cushing’s, but in many patients with Cushing’s to separate pituitary from nonpituitary Cushing’s syndrome. __________ Official information Patient information from Canterbury Health Limited Endocrine Services INFERIOR PETROSAL SINUS SAMPLING WITH CRH STIMULATION Introduction You have been diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome which results from excessive production of the hormone cortisol, made by the adrenal glands. In your case, the adrenal glands are being driven by excessive amounts of another hormone called ACTH. This test is to determine where that ACTH is coming from. Constant high levels of ACTH are usually caused by a tumor. Approximately 80% of cases are tumors of the pituitary gland while the remainder may occur in the lung, pancreas and other sites (known as "ectopic" sites). This test relies on the fact that if the source of your high ACTH is the pituitary gland blood levels taken from very near the gland will be higher than the blood level in an arm vein. Pituitary gland tumors are often tiny and can't be seen even with the most modern scanners. This test will help your endocrinologist to know with almost 100% certainty whether the pituitary gland is the source or if a search is needed elsewhere (for example in the lungs or abdomen). This guides treatment, for example the recommendation for Pituitary surgery. Procedure You are allowed water only from midnight the night before (nothing else to eat or drink). You will be given a light sedative, but will be awake during the procedure. You will be taken to the Radiology Department where the procedure will take place. The radiologist will place some local anesthetic into the groin on each side over the main vein that drains blood from each leg. Then a fine bore catheter will be passed up the vein, past the heart and into the major vein in the neck (the jugular vein). From there it is passed into a smaller vein that drains blood directly from the pituitary gland, known as the inferior petrosal sinus. The procedure is repeated for the other side. X-ray screening guides the radiologist to know where the catheters are positioned. A small butterfly needle is inserted into an arm vein. Once the catheters are in place, blood samples will be taken from the right and left petrosal sinus, and an arm vein at exactly the same time. After two baseline samples, a hormone called CRH is injected into the arm vein. This increases ACTH when a pituitary gland tumor is present, but has no effect on ectopic ACTH production. Further blood samples are taken for another 10 to 15 minutes, then the catheters are withdrawn. Pressure is applied to the groins to minimize bruising. Often sampling is continued from the arm vein only, for a total of 90 minutes. You will have to remain lying on your back for at least 2 hours afterwards. Risks This procedure is very safe when performed by an experienced radiologist. Rarely, there have been reports of people having a stroke at the time of this procedure but this was related to a catheter of faulty design which is now no longer used. Bruising, which is common in Cushing's syndrome, may occur after the catheters are pulled out. Some people notice flushing of the face after the CRH and rarely it can result in a fall in blood pressure. From: http://www.pituitarycenter.com/html/article1.html INFERIOR PETROSAL SINUS SAMPLING Patients who are suspected of having a pituitary tumor resulting in Cushing's syndrome may be referred for inferior petrosal sinus sampling if findings on MRI examination of the pituitary did not reveal a tumor or are inconclusive. The inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure is performed in the radiology department. With the patient on the angiography table both groin regions are partially shaved, sterilized, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to provide pain relief. A tiny incision is made within the skin and a needle is inserted to puncture the femoral vein which drains blood from the leg. A small catheter is then inserted into the vein and flushed with an intravenous solution. Longer catheters are passed into the shorter catheters and advanced through the large veins traversing the torso into the neck and then into the base of the skull. Thereafter, a microcatheter is advanced through each of these larger guiding catheters and threaded into the inferior petrosal sinuses which lie along the internal aspect of the skull base and drain blood from the pituitary gland. Once these microcatheters have been positioned, contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to verify their position in the inferior petrosal sinuses. Next, blood samples are collected from both catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses and from a peripheral (usually arm) vein. Thereafter, corticotropin-releasing hormone is administered through the peripheral vein. Repeat blood samples are drawn 2, 5, and 10 minutes after the injection. Additional X-rays are taken to confirm that the catheters were not dislodged from their site during the sampling procedure. Thereafter, the catheters are removed and direct pressure is applied to the groin region to decrease the likelihood of bruising. Patients are observed for 4 hours following the procedure to ensure that no bleeding from the femoral vein puncture sites will occur. Normal non-strenuous activity may be resumed 48 hours after the procedure. Sedatives and pain relievers may be administered during the procedure as necessary. A blood thinner might be used depending on the patient's anatomy and the clinical suspicion of developing a blood clot. If a blood thinner is used, this may be counteracted with medication at the conclusion of the procedure to ensure that normal blood clotting resumes while removing the catheters. Overall, the inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure involves minimal discomfort. The risks of the procedure are small. X-rays are used but the radiation doses are minimized. Infection is controlled by using sterile technique. Some patients might have an unexpected allergic reaction to the dye used during the study. A bruise may develop within the groin. Although rare, blood clots have developed in the groin veins following this procedure. Again, steps are taken to minimize the likelihood of each and every one of these complications. ACTH levels are measured in each of the blood samples obtained during the procedure. The ratios between the petrosal sinus sampling and the peripheral vein samples are compared. The results are used to determine whether ACTH production is due to either a pituitary or a non-pituitary source. ___ From: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/pituitarycenter/html/article1.html Patients who are suspected of having a pituitary tumor resulting in Cushing's syndrome may be referred for inferior petrosal sinus sampling if findings on MRI examination of the pituitary did not reveal a tumor or are inconclusive. The inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure is performed in the radiology department. With the patient on the angiography table both groin regions are partially shaved, sterilized, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to provide pain relief. A tiny incision is made within the skin and a needle is inserted to puncture the femoral vein which drains blood from the leg. A small catheter is then inserted into the vein and flushed with an intravenous solution. Longer catheters are passed into the shorter catheters and advanced through the large veins traversing the torso into the neck and then into the base of the skull. Thereafter, a microcatheter is advanced through each of these larger guiding catheters and threaded into the inferior petrosal sinuses which lie along the internal aspect of the skull base and drain blood from the pituitary gland. Once these microcatheters have been positioned, contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to verify their position in the inferior petrosal sinuses. Next, blood samples are collected from both catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses and from a peripheral (usually arm) vein. Thereafter, corticotropin-releasing hormone is administered through the peripheral vein. Repeat blood samples are drawn 2, 5, and 10 minutes after the injection. Additional X-rays are taken to confirm that the catheters were not dislodged from their site during the sampling procedure. Thereafter, the catheters are removed and direct pressure is applied to the groin region to decrease the likelihood of bruising. Patients are observed for 4 hours following the procedure to ensure that no bleeding from the femoral vein puncture sites will occur. Normal non-strenuous activity may be resumed 48 hours after the procedure. Sedatives and pain relievers may be administered during the procedure as necessary. A blood thinner might be used depending on the patient's anatomy and the clinical suspicion of developing a blood clot. If a blood thinner is used, this may be counteracted with medication at the conclusion of the procedure to ensure that normal blood clotting resumes while removing the catheters. Overall, the inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure involves minimal discomfort. The risks of the procedure are small. X-rays are used but the radiation doses are minimized. Infection is controlled by using sterile technique. Some patients might have an unexpected allergic reaction to the dye used during the study. A bruise may develop within the groin. Although rare, blood clots have developed in the groin veins following this procedure. Again, steps are taken to minimize the likelihood of each and every one of these complications. ACTH levels are measured in each of the blood samples obtained during the procedure. The ratios between the petrosal sinus sampling and the peripheral vein samples are compared. The results are used to determine whether ACTH production is due to either a pituitary or a non-pituitary source. ___ From https://www.uclahealth.org/radiology/interventional-neuroradiology/inferior-petrosal-sinus-sampling The IPSS test is done in some patients to identify if there is too much ACTH is causing the excess production of cortisol, and where it is coming from. How do we do an IPSS procedure? Typically under general anesthesia, we place small tubes (catheters) into the femoral veins (the main vein draining the legs) at the level of the groin. From there, under X-ray guidance, we navigate those catheters to the main veins which drain the Pituitary gland. These are the inferior petrosal sinuses (right and left). We then draw samples from those veins and the main vein of the abdomen and test those samples for ACTH. We also take timed samples after giving a dose of medication which would normally stimulate the production of ACTH to improve the sensitivity of the test. When we get the results, the different levels of ACTH may help the endocrinologist determine where the tumor is located that is causing the adrenal gland to produce the excess cortisol. If it is from the Pituitary gland, any difference between the right and left samples may help the surgeon determine the surgical plan to remove the tumor yet preserve the normal Pituitary gland. Example of testing results: Time Right IPS Left IPS Inf Vena Cava Cortisol Baseline 1 09:32 40 pg/ml 17 18 25 mcg/dl Baseline 2 09:34 45 18 15 24 DDAVP inj 09:38 Post 2min 09:40 72 21 18 Post 5min 09:43 157 20 19 Post 10min 09:48 161 30 25 Post 15min 09:53 162 33 26 Post 30min 10:08 124 32 29 30 This example shows elevation of ACTH in the right inferior petrosal sinus, likely indicating a tumor in the right side of the pituitary gland causing Cushing’s Disease. Picture of contrast injection of the inferior petrosal sinuses: Tips of the catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses.
  2. Please note that if you buy through links in this article, Medical News Today may earn a small commission. Here’s their process. Cortisol is a hormone with various functions throughout the body. However, if a person’s body cannot regulate their cortisol levels, it could lead to a serious health condition. In these cases, home cortisol tests may be useful to indicate when someone might need medical attention. This article discusses: what cortisol is what a home cortisol test is why a person might buy a home cortisol test some home cortisol tests to purchase online when to see a doctor What is cortisol? Cortisol is the stress hormone that affects several systems in the body, including the: nervous system immune system cardiovascular system respiratory system reproductive system musculoskeletal system integumentary system The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Most human body cells have cortisol receptors, and the hormone can help in several ways, including: reducing inflammation regulating metabolism assisting with memory formation controlling blood pressure developing the fetus during pregnancy maintaining salt and water balance in the body controlling blood sugar levels All these functions make cortisol a vital part of maintaining overall health. If the body can no longer regulate cortisol levels, it can lead to several health disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life threatening complications. The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as: in the event of an injury during illness during a surgical procedure What are home cortisol tests? A cortisol test usually involves a blood test. However, some may require saliva and urine samples instead. There are several home cortisol tests available to purchase over the counter or online. These allow a person to take a sample of blood, urine, or saliva before sending it off for analysis. After taking a home cortisol test, people can usually receive their results within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional. However, there are currently no studies investigating the reliability of these home cortisol tests. Therefore, people should follow up on their test results with a healthcare professional. Why and when do people need them? A person should take a home cortisol test if they feel they may have a cortisol imbalance. If cortisol levels are too high, a person may notice the following: rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen high blood pressure osteoporosis bruises and purple stretch marks mood swings muscle weakness an increase in thirst and need to urinate If cortisol levels are too low, a person may experience the following symptoms: fatigue loss of appetite unintentional weight loss muscle weakness abdominal pain Additionally, low cortisol levels may lead to: low blood pressure low blood sugar low blood sodium high blood potassium A test can help individuals check their cortisol levels. If the test results show these levels are too high or too low, people should seek medical advice. A cortisol imbalance may be a sign of an underlying condition, which can lead to serious complications without treatment. If a person cannot carry out a home cortisol test, they should speak to a medical professional who can arrange a cortisol test at a healthcare facility. What to look for in a home cortisol test At a clinic or hospital setting, a medical professional will usually take a blood sample and analyze it for an individual’s cortisol levels. Home cortisol tests involve a person taking a sample of blood, urine, or saliva. There are currently no studies investigating the accuracy of these results. However, home cortisol tests may be faster and more convenient than making an appointment with a doctor to take a sample. People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including: Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others need a sample of urine or saliva. With this in mind, a person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable providing. Test analysis: A person may wish to purchase a product from a company that sends tests to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs for analysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate these labs to help ensure safety and accuracy. Accuracy: Individuals may wish to speak to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before purchasing to ensure the test is reliable and accurate. Products Several online retailers offer home cortisol tests. It is important to follow all test instructions to ensure a valid result. Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based. LetsGetChecked – Cortisol Test This cortisol test uses the finger prick method to draw blood for the sample. Here are the steps to take and send off a blood sample: Individuals fill in their details on the collection box and activate their testing kit online at the LetsGetChecked website. People need to wash their hands with warm soapy water before using an alcohol swab to clean the finger that they will prick. Once the finger is completely dry, individuals pierce the skin using the lancet in the test kit. A person must wipe away the first drop of blood before squeezing some into the blood collection tube. After closing the tube, individuals must invert it 5–10 times before placing it in the included biohazard bag, which they then place in the box. After following these steps, people can send the sample back to LetsGetChecked using the kit’s prepaid envelope. Test results usually come back within 2–5 days. LetsGetChecked tests samples in the same labs that primary care providers, hospitals, and government schemes use. These labs are CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited. The company also has a team of nurses and doctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer ongoing support. These healthcare professionals are on hand to discuss a person’s results with them over the phone. Everlywell At-Home Cortisol Levels Test Kit – Sleep & Stress Test This Everlywell product uses a urine sample to test a person’s cortisol levels. The test measures the levels of three hormones in a person’s body: cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin. It also measures a person’s creatinine levels. There are three steps with this test: Individuals register their testing kit on Everlywell’s website. A person follows the instructions carefully to take their urine sample. Once they have their urine sample, they place it in the prepaid package and send it off to Everlywell’s labs. Within a few days, individuals will receive their results digitally via the Everlywell website. Medical professionals can also offer helpful insights via their secure platform. As well as sending a personalized report of each marker, Everlywell also sends detailed information about what the results mean. The labs where Everlywell tests samples all carry certification with CLIA. The company also ensures that all results are reviewed and certified by independent board-certified physicians within the person’s specific state.SHOP NOW Healthlabs Cortisol, AM & PM Test Healthlabs offers a cortisol test that tests a person’s cortisol levels twice — once in the morning and once in the evening. The company says they do this because a person’s cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, by testing twice, they can gather information on this fluctuation. This test uses a blood sample, which a person takes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They must follow the instructions clearly to ensure they take suitable samples. The manufacturer says that people should collect a morning sample between 7–9 a.m. and an evening sample between 3–5 p.m. They then need to send off their sample for analysis. After testing is complete at a CLIA-certified lab, a person will receive their results, which usually takes between 1–2 days. SHOP NOW When to speak with a doctor A person should undergo a cortisol test if they believe they may have high or low cortisol levels. They can do this at home or speak with a medical professional who can carry out the test for them. People may also wish to seek medical help if they show signs of too much or too little cortisol. This could indicate a potentially serious underlying health issue. Summary Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and controlling blood pressure. If a person believes they have high or low cortisol levels, they may wish to take a cortisol test. Usually, these tests take place at a medical practice. However, several home cortisol tests are available to purchase. A person can take these tests at home by providing a urine, blood, or saliva sample. Once a lab analyzes the test, people usually receive their results within a few days. Individuals should follow up any test results with a healthcare professional. No clinics, no stress. Test your cortisol levels from home Test your cortisol level from home with LetsGetChecked. Get free shipping, medical support, and results from accredited labs within 2–5 days. Order today for 30% off. LEARN MORE Last medically reviewed on April 29, 2021 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/3-of-the-best-home-cortisol-tests
  3. John P H Wilding 1 Affiliations expand PMID: 32061161 DOI: 10.1530/EJE-20-0099 Abstract Endocrine disorders such as Cushing's syndrome and hypothyroidism may cause weight gain and exacerbate metabolic dysfunction in obesity. Other forms of endocrine dysfunction, particularly gonadal dysfunction (predominantly testosterone deficiency in men and polycystic ovarian syndrome in women), and abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the growth hormone-IGF-1 system and vitamin D deficiency are common in obesity. As a result, endocrinologists may be referred people with obesity for endocrine testing and asked to consider treatment with various hormones. A recent systematic review and associated guidance from the European Society of Endocrinology provide a useful evidence summary and clear guidelines on endocrine testing and treatment in people with obesity. With the exception of screening for hypothyroidism, most endocrine testing is not recommended in the absence of clinical features of endocrine syndromes in obesity, and likewise hormone treatment is rarely needed. These guidelines should help reduce unnecessary endocrine testing in those referred for assessment of obesity and encourage clinicians to support patients with their attempts at weight loss, which if successful has a good chance of correcting any endocrine dysfunction. Similar articles Classical endocrine diseases causing obesity. Weaver JU.Front Horm Res. 2008;36:212-228. doi: 10.1159/000115367.PMID: 18230905 Review. Is obesity an endocrine condition? Stocks AE.Aust Fam Physician. 1977 Feb;6(2):109-16.PMID: 558747 FPIN’s clinical inquiries. Secondary causes of obesity. Allen G, Safranek S.Am Fam Physician. 2011 Apr 15;83(8):972-3.PMID: 21524038 No abstract available. [Role of the endocrine system in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease]. Hagymási K, Reismann P, Rácz K, Tulassay Z.Orv Hetil. 2009 Nov 29;150(48):2173-81. doi: 10.1556/OH.2009.28749.PMID: 19923096 Review. Hungarian. Obesity and endocrine disease. Kokkoris P, Pi-Sunyer FX.Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2003 Dec;32(4):895-914. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8529(03)00078-1.PMID: 14711067 Review. From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32061161/
  4. Guest

    Advice/encouragment.

    I'm going to make a very long story somewhat short here.... I have had all kinds of health issues over the last 10-12 years that has lead me to many Dr's, mis-diagnosis and giving up on figuring it out. Nov. 2018 my normal nausea and vomiting turned into turned into vomiting everything I ate or drank and by early Feb 2019 I ended up seeing my PCP. She sent me for an abdominal CT scan as well as to a Gastroenterologist. Blood work found nothing, gastric emptying study was only half completed because I got sick (but was normal). The CT scan however showed a 4.4CM adrenal adenoma on my left adrenal gland as well as a few small nodules in my left lung. I was sent for a follow up CT scan with contrast related to the adrenal nodule- adrenal mass 4.4cm HU13 washout 79%. I'm told this means that it's most likely not cancer or functioning. I really don't know anything and I move on. Still no relief to issues going on. I go to see an acupuncturist and during the consult they mentioned Cushings syndrome. I bring that up and my Dr blows me off. I requested a referral to an endocrinologist, and am told no. A few months pass with no change other than less control for diabetes. Dr. says I should see an endo, however the endocrinologist denied the referral. HMO's can be so horrible. So I appeal it, they decide to test my blood cortisol 8 am. It's normal. Appeal was denied, followed by two more appeals. The final appeal goes to an independent review board and they overturn HMO's ruling and I get to see an endo (this was just a couple weeks ago). Due to Covid they are only doing phone appointments so no exam, endo was nice but didn't really think too much of all my symptoms or anything. Kept referring back to radiology stating that it isn't cancer/functioning, but decides to run tests. His notes related to tests, as well as results are below. He was honestly irritated when I asked questions (mainly on ACTH, I asked what is considered low. He said there is no low ACTH), he mentioned he went to school an additional 6 years to be an endo..blah blah blah. I am taking dexamethasone tonight, hoping that will help. Am I crazy to keep pursuing? Dr's and honestly family make me feel like I am losing it, making symptoms up. etc. Screening overall negative - 24 hour urine free cortisol minimally elevated - - equivical results < 2 x ULN and not consistent with cushing's syndrome. No change in her symptoms Overall based on past work up and imaging - suggest this is a benign, non functional adenoma. Given size - would merit annual biochemical screening and 1-2 imaging.... TOTAL TESTOSTERONE 4 ng/dL DHEA SO4 24 mcg/dL CORTISOL 7.9 mcg/dL ACTH 7 pg/mL 24 hr URINE FREE CORTISOL 96.3 mcg/24hr (H) TSH 2.17 mcIU/mL NORMETANEPHRINE, 24 HR URINE 469 mcg/24hr METANEPHRINE, TOTAL, 24H, URINE 505 mcg/24hr METANEPHRINE 24 HR UR 36 mcg/24hr (L) ALDOSTERONE 5 ng/dL RENIN ACTIVITY 2.63 ng/mL/hr ALDOSTERONE/RENIN RATIO 1.9 ratio
  5. Abstract Despite various approaches to immunoassay and chromatography for monitoring cortisol concentrations, conventional methods require bulky external equipment, which limits their use as mobile health care systems. Here, we describe a human pilot trial of a soft, smart contact lens for real-time detection of the cortisol concentration in tears using a smartphone. A cortisol sensor formed using a graphene field-effect transistor can measure cortisol concentration with a detection limit of 10 pg/ml, which is low enough to detect the cortisol concentration in human tears. In addition, this soft contact lens only requires the integration of this cortisol sensor with transparent antennas and wireless communication circuits to make a smartphone the only device needed to operate the lens remotely without obstructing the wearer’s view. Furthermore, in vivo tests using live rabbits and the human pilot experiment confirmed the good biocompatibility and reliability of this lens as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. INTRODUCTION The steroid hormone, cortisol, which is known as a stress hormone, is secreted by the adrenal gland when people are stressed psychologically or physically (1). This secretion occurs when the adrenal gland is stimulated by adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland when it is stimulated by the corticotropin-releasing hormone secreted by the hypothalamus. This serial cortisol secretion system is referred to as a hypothalamus–pituitary gland–adrenal gland axis, which is affected by chronic stress, resulting in abnormal secretion of cortisol (2, 3). The accumulation of cortisol caused by the abnormal secretion of cortisol increases the concentrations of fat and amino acid, which can result in diverse severe diseases (e.g., Cushing’s disease, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular complications, and type 2 diabetes) and neurological disorders (such as depression and anxiety disorders) (2–7). In contrast, abnormally low cortisol levels can lead to Addison’s disease, which results in hypercholesterolemia, weight loss, and chronic fatigue (8). In addition, it was recently reported that plasma cortisol can be correlated to the prognosis of traumatic brain injury (9). Furthermore, the extent of cortisol secretion varies from person to person, and it changes continuously (10, 11). Thus, developing health care systems for real-time monitoring of the cortisol level has been explored extensively over the past decade as the key to the quantitative analysis of stress levels. Although various efforts have led to the development of cortisol sensors that can measure the concentration of cortisol in blood, saliva, sweat, hair, urine, and interstitial fluid (12–17), the accurate measurement of cortisol concentrations has been limited because of the difficulties associated with the transportation and storage of cortisol as well as the instability of the biologically active cortisol in these body fluids at room temperature. In addition, these conventional sensing methods require bulky equipment for the extraction and analysis of these body fluids, which is not suitable for mobile health care systems (12, 18). Therefore, the development of noninvasive and wearable sensors that can monitor cortisol concentration accurately is highly desirable for a smart health care solution. For example, the immunoassay method, which uses an antigen-antibody binding reaction, has been used extensively for electrochemical cortisol immunosensors using saliva and interstitial fluid, except tears (12, 14, 19). However, these immunosensors still require the use of bulky impedance analyzers for the analysis of the Nyquist plot from electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Although the cyclic voltammetry (CV) technique can be used as an alternative approach for sensing cortisol, additional bulky electrochemical instruments still are necessary for analyzing the CV curves (13, 14, 19). Recently, wearable forms of cortisol sensors that use sweat were developed (15), but they still required bulky measurement equipment (15, 16). Therefore, portable and smart sensors that can monitor the accurate concentration of cortisol in real time are highly desirable for use in mobile health care. Among the various body fluids, tears, in particular, contain important biomarkers, including cortisol (20, 21). Thus, the integration of biosensors with contact lenses is a potentially attractive candidate for the noninvasive and real-time monitoring of these biomarkers from tears (22–25). However, an approach for fabricating a smart contact lens for sensing the cortisol in tears has not been demonstrated previously. Thus, here, we present an extraordinary approach for the formation of a smart, soft contact lens that enables remote, real-time monitoring of the cortisol level in the wearer’s tears using mobile phones. This smart, soft contact lens is composed of a cortisol sensor, a wireless antenna, capacitors, resistors, and integrated circuit chips that use stretchable interconnects without obstructing the wearer’s view. The components of this device (except the antenna) were protected from mechanical deformations by locating each of the components on discrete, rigid islands and by embedding these islands inside an elastic layer. A graphene field-effect transistor (FET; with the binding of monoclonal antibody) was used as this cortisol immunosensor, which exhibited a sufficiently low detection limit, i.e., 10 pg/ml, for its sensing of cortisol in human tears in which the cortisol concentration ranges from 1 to 40 ng/ml (26). This sensor was integrated with a near-field communication (NFC) chip and antenna inside the soft contact lens for the real-time wireless transmission of the data to the user’s mobile device (e.g., a smart phone or a smart watch). The antenna occupies a relatively large area of this soft lens, so it requires its high stretchability, good transparency, and low resistance for operating a standard NFC chip at 13.56 MHz. In our approach, the hybrid random networks of ultralong silver nanofibers (AgNFs) and fine silver nanowires (AgNWs) enabled high transparency and good stretchability of this antenna and its low sheet resistance for reliable standard NFCs (at 13.56 MHz) inside this smart contact lens. Thus, the fully integrated system of this smart contact lens provided wireless and battery-free operation for the simultaneous detection and transmission of the cortisol concentration from tears to a mobile phone using standard NFC. In addition, a human pilot trial and in vivo tests conducted using live rabbits demonstrated the biocompatibility of this lens, and its safety against inflammation and thermal/electromagnetic field radiation suggests its substantial usability as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. RESULTS Cortisol immunosensor A graphene FET sensor was fabricated by binding the cortisol monoclonal antibody (C-Mab) to the surface of graphene for the immunosensing of cortisol. Here, graphene acts as a transducer that converts the interaction between cortisol and C-Mab into electrical signals. Figure 1A shows the immobilization process of C-Mab to graphene. Immobilization proceeds through amide bonding of the C-Mab onto the carboxyl group of the graphene surface via the EDC [1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride]/NHS (N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide) coupling reaction. A chemical vapor deposition–synthesized graphene layer was transferred onto a desired substrate and exposed to ultraviolet ozone (UVO) to activate the surface of the graphene with the carboxylate group. Figure S1 shows the contact angle between this surface of the graphene and a droplet of deionized (DI) water. Longer exposure time to UVO can decrease the hydrophobicity of graphene with decreasing the contact angle. Table S1 shows the increase in the electrical resistance of graphene that resulted from this UVO treatment. In our experiment, 2 min of exposure time to UVO decreased the contact angle from 70° to 38° without increasing the resistance of the graphene notably. UVO exposure times longer than this threshold time degraded the resistance of the graphene excessively, so the time of exposure of our samples to UVO was limited to 2 min. Figure S2A illustrates the process of immobilizing C-Mab through the EDC/NHS coupling reaction. This two-step coupling reaction of EDC and NHS can mediate the amide bonding between the carboxylate group of the UVO-exposed graphene and the amine group of the protein (12, 17, 27, 28). Here, EDC forms reactive O-acylisourea ester, thereby making the surface unstable. This O-acylisourea ester reacts with the NHS to form amine-reactive NHS ester with the surface still remaining semistable. Then, C-Mab with the amine group reacts with the amine-reactive NHS ester, thereby forming stable amide bonding that can immobilize C-Mab to the NHS on the surface of the graphene. Figure S2B shows the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy spectra of the DI water after the cortisol sensor had been immersed for 24 hours. The spectra of the DI water in which the sensor was immersed were not significantly different from those of the pristine DI water. However, the C-Mab solution that had a concentration of 1 μg/ml had a significant peak intensity in the range of 3000 to 2800 cm−1, representing the N-H bonding in the C-Mab. These results indicated that C-Mab formed stable bonding on the carboxylated graphene and was negligibly detached by exposure to water. From https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/28/eabb2891
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