How is a comprehensive metabolic panel used in the workup of Addison disease?

Updated: Mar 11, 2020
  • Author: George T Griffing, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Comprehensive metabolic panel

  • The most prominent findings are hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, and a mild non–anion-gap metabolic acidosis due to the loss of the sodium-retaining and potassium and hydrogen ion-secreting action of aldosterone.

  • Urinary and sweat sodium also may be elevated.

  • The most consistent finding is elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine due to the hypovolemia, a decreased glomerular filtration rate, and a decreased renal plasma flow.

  • Hypercalcemia, the cause of which is not well understood, may be present in a small percentage of patients. However, hypocalcemia could occur in patients with Addison disease accompanied by idiopathic hypoparathyroidism.

  • Hypoglycemia may be present in fasted patients, or it may occur spontaneously. It is caused by the increased peripheral utilization of glucose and increased insulin sensitivity. It is more prominent in children and in patients with secondary adrenocortical insufficiency.

  • Liver function tests may reveal a glucocorticoid-responsive liver dysfunction.

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