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Pituitary function was investigated in 9 patients in shock after Russell's viper bites and in 24 individuals who had been severely envenomed 2 weeks to 24 years previously. 3 out of 9 patients had hypoglycaemia and inappropriately low serum cortisol, plasma growth hormone, and plasma prolactin concentrations. 4 who died had pituitary haemorrhage and 1 had adrenal haemorrhage as well. Of the 24 who had apparently recovered from bites, 7 had clinical features of hypopituitarism and no response in plasma growth hormone or prolactin concentrations to symptom-producing insulin-induced hypoglycaemia. 4 of these 7 had a sluggish serum cortisol response to 'Synacthen Depot' and 5 had an abnormal cortisol response to hypoglycaemia. 4 men with symptoms who were tested had low serum testosterone concentrations; serum thyroxine was also low in these men but not in 2 women with menstrual disturbances and impaired insulin responses. Of the 17 individuals without clinical evidence of endocrine disease, 4 had pituitary hormonal abnormalities. Russell's viper envenoming may thus produce a disorder resembling Sheehan's syndrome.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet

Publication Date

03/10/1987

Volume

2

Pages

763 - 767

Keywords

Acute Disease, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Agricultural Workers' Diseases, Chronic Disease, Female, Hormones, Humans, Hypoglycemia, Hypopituitarism, Male, Middle Aged, Myanmar, Prospective Studies, Snake Bites, Viper Venoms