Cushing's Syndrome


Cushing's syndrome is a rare problem that happens when you have too much of the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is especially important in controlling blood pressure and metabolism. But it affects almost every area of your body.

Normally, your body keeps the level of cortisol in balance through a complex system that involves three glands: hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands.

When your cortisol level gets low, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH. CRH tells the pituitary gland, located beneath the brain, to make a hormone called ACTH. ACTH triggers the adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys, to release cortisol. If something upsets this system, your cortisol level can get too high. If it's high for too long, it can cause symptoms and can lead to serious problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis.

Our neuroendocrinology experts at the Stanford Pituitary Center have the highest expertise in diagnosing and treating Cushing's syndrome, and our pituitary-expert neurosurgeons are highly specialized in the endoscopic endonasal approach for Cushing’s disease, and have developed innovative techniques aiming to improve surgical results.

A 32 year-old man, presented with truncal obesity, diabetes, and hypertension; preoperative studies were compatible with Cushing’s disease. The MRI showed a large and invasive tumor. Intraoperatively it was invading the medial wall of the cavernous sinus bilaterally, and both were removed successfully achieving complete resection and functional remission that remains five years after surgery.