Acute and chronic pituitary failure resembling Sheehan's syndrome following bites by Russell's viper in Burma.
Tun-Pe None., Phillips RE., Warrell DA., Moore RA., Tin-Nu-Swe None., Myint-Lwin None., Burke CW.
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.