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Glossary

Glossary

ACTH
An abbreviation for the adrenocorticotropic hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol into the blood stream.1

Adrenal Glands
Endocrine glands located on top of the kidneys that produce a range of hormones, including epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, the corticosteroid hormones, and some androgens.2

Benign
Term meaning essentially harmless; not progressive.3

Buffalo Hump
Hump-like collection of fat between and above the shoulder blades.4

Chronic
Term used to describe long-lasting diseases or conditions.5

Cyclical Cushing's Syndrome
People who have cyclical Cushing's syndrome exhibit repeat episodes of cortisol excess regularly or irregularly, with some cycles ranging from days to years. Frequent urinary or salivary cortisol tests may be used as screening tools for suspected cyclical Cushing's syndrome.6

Corticosteroids
Hormones produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands; also, a class of such hormones used as medications for inflammatory conditions such as certain lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias.7

Cortisol
A glucocorticoid or corticosteroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol influences sugar (glucose) metabolism; has effects on bones, fat tissue, the cardiovascular system, and the immune system; and is involved in the "fight or flight" response to stress.8

Computed Tomography Scan
Computed tomography scanning is a diagnostic procedure using X-ray equipment to create cross-sectional images of the body.9

Depression
A feeling of extreme sadness and discouragement. Symptoms also may include disruption of sleeping and eating patterns and lack of energy.10

Diagnosis
Identification of a disease or disorder by a healthcare professional.1

Gland
Any organ or tissue that releases a substance to be used elsewhere in the body, such as an endocrine gland.11

Hormone
A substance (secreted by an endocrine gland) that is carried through the bloodstream to various organs of the body, where it serves to regulate various body functions.12

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging is a type of scan used to produce clear images of parts of the body. It can also determine the size and location of a tumor.1

Moon Face
Swelling of the face due to buildup of fluid in facial tissue.13

Obesity
Excessive body weight, usually defined as more than 20% above average for age and height.14

Pituitary Gland
A small gland that is located under the brain. It controls hormone production in several parts of the body.1

Pseudo-Cushing's Syndrome
People with pseudo-Cushing's syndrome may present with some of the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome but don't actually have the disease. Pseudo-Cushing's syndrome may be associated with severe stresses, alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal, and psychiatric conditions such as depression, panic disorders, and psychotic episodes.15

Transsphenoidal Surgery
Transsphenoidal surgery is used to remove tumors of the pituitary gland. This type of surgery involves using surgical instruments that are inserted into part of the brain by going through the nose and the sphenoid bone.16

Tumor
Abnormal growth of tissue. The tumor may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous).17

References:
  1. Cushing's Syndrome and Cushing's Disease: Your Question's Answered. The Pituitary Society Web site. http://www.pituitarysociety.org/public/specific/cushing/cushings.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2013.
  2. Adrenal gland [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/adrenal gland. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  3. Benign [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/benign. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  4. Cushing's syndrome/disease. American Association of Neurological Surgeons Web site. http://www.aans.org/en/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Cushings%20Disease.aspx. Accessed April 13, 2013.
  5. Chronic [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/chronic. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  6. Meinardi JR, Wolffenbuttel BHR, Dullaart RPF. Cyclic Cushing's syndrome: a clinical challenge. Eur J Endocrinol. 2007;157:245-254.
  7. Corticosteroid [definition]. National Cancer Institute Web site. http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?CdrID=45658. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  8. Cortisol [level] [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003693.htm. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  9. Computed tomography scan [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ctscans.html. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  10. Depression [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  11. Gland [definition]. National Cancer Institute Web site. http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?CdrID=46386. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  12. Hormones [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hormones.html. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  13. Facial Swelling [definition]. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003105.htm. Accessed April 15, 2103.
  14. Obesity [definition]. MedlinePlus. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/obesity. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  15. Pseudo Cushing's [definition]. Pituitary Network Association Web site. https://www.pituitary.org/library/library_detail.aspx?page_id=1290. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  16. Transsphenoidal surgery [definition]. National Cancer Institute Web site. http://cancer.gov/dictionary?CdrID=476651. Accessed April 15, 2013.
  17. Tumor [definition]. National Cancer Institute Web site. http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?CdrID=46634. Accessed April 15, 2013.