Adrenal gland disorders
Christy, Nicholas College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:October 2019
- Adrenal cortex
- Adrenal medulla
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Malfunctions of the paired adrenal glands. The adrenal glands can have congenital defects and can be damaged by infections and destructive tumors. Anencephaly, that is, gross underdevelopment of the brain in fetal life, leads to hypoplasia of the adrenal cortex. The cortex is also, although rarely, invaded by acute bacterial diseases, for example, septicemia due to the colon bacillus or meningococcus, which can result in failure of the adrenal cortex followed by shock and death (Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome). Chronic infection of the cortex by the tubercle bacillus or a fungal infection such as histoplasmosis can cause primary adrenal deficiency. Cancer may spread to the adrenal glands, and there are uncommon primary tumors of the adrenal that do not secrete hormones. The most important disorders of the adrenal cortex and medulla are those characterized by abnormal hormone secretion. See also: Adrenal gland
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