Factitious cushing’s syndrome with unusual presentation: a case report and literature review

Almotazbellah M. M. Zeer
Mahmoud Noman
Zahraa M. M. Zeer
Alaa Attawneh
Zinah A. Bairmani
Khadeejeh M. A. Alfroukh
Layth Oweinn
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Introduction: Munchausen syndrome is known as a factitious disorder imposed on the self. Factitious Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is a very rare form of Munchausen syndrome, presenting with varied clinical and biochemical features, making diagnosis challenging. Case Presentation: A 40-year-old female patient who worked as a registered nurse presented with clinical features of CS but denied any exogenous corticosteroid use. The endocrine workup revealed that the patient had a high 24 h urinary-free cortisol collection before admission. Subsequent evaluations showed low levels of morning cortisol and plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone along with a suppressed overnight low-dose dexamethasone suppression test, leading to an investigation of hypercortisolism. Unexpectedly, subsequent testing showed a normal 24 h urinary-free cortisol level. Additionally, the patient was diagnosed with panhypopituitarism, the radiological investigations showed normal pituitary and adrenal glands. Despite consistently denying the use of corticosteroids, it was finally discovered that the patient had been surreptitiously taking prednisone and receiving multiple dexamethasone injections over the past few months. The patient received treatment through a gradual prednisone tapering regimen, accompanied by comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and management. Conclusion: This case underscores the exceptional rarity of factitious CS and emphasizes the importance of considering it as a potential differential diagnosis in hypercortisolism cases, particularly when the patient’s medical history contradicts investigative findings. Furthermore, it highlights the criticality of adopting a multidisciplinary approach to investigate patients whose clinical presentation aligns with factitious CS.