Message Number: YG1408 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-18 00:03:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Post - Adrenal Surgery - Some Questions

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., Sukie Crandall <sukiecrandall@t...>
> >The male ferret, Slater, a four year old angora has already
> >to grow back his hair. He had bilateral surgery for adrenal
> >carcinoma. The female ferret, Kali a very healthy six year old,
> >yet to grow back any hair. Except for the feet and head she is
> >completely bald. Her energy level is actually a lot higher now
> >pre surgery and she is less "needy" and certainly does not want to
> >held anymore...
> Well, Rena, we KNOW that Ashling sure lost both of her glands after
> her acute onset because she requires hormonal replacement with
> florinef and prednisone but she never re-grew her sacral area fur.
> Upshot: while pelage problems can indicate that there may be
> remaining adrenal tissue that is kicking up, it could also just
> that the follicles died.
> There certainly are situations in which doing the Tennessee Panel
> make sense to know for sure; you may be in one of those situations.


I'll expand just a bit on what Sukie says about the follicles. One
of the myriad effects of estrogen on the body is to cause involution
and atrophy of the follicle. As levelsof estrogen begin to build up,
many of the layers of the follicle that cooperate in the formation of
the hair shaft begin to wither away. Two variables that affect this
process are a) how much estrogen is secreted and b) how long it has
been secreted for. When the follicle has reach a critical level of
atrophy, it no longer can produce a hair. When it exceeds another
level, it cannot even retain the hair shaft that it produced, and the
hair falls out.

Ferrets who have had tumors that produced tremendous amounts of
estrogen, and have had them for a while, would be expected to have
tremendously atrophic follicles - empty follicles that couldn't
regrow a hair. As the levels of estrogen decrease, the atrophic
changes regress, and the hair follicle begins to regenerate the lost
germinal layers. Some follicles may only need the excess estrogen to
go away (this is why your angora ferret started growing very
quickly), some may require the extra stimulation that entry into the
next shed cycle may bring, and sadly, some ferret may have had such
stress to the follicles, that they have withered beyond repair
(luckily, this is uncommon.)

Sukie's other advice is also quite sound. About 15% of all adrenal
cases are bilateral. The fact that the other adrenal was not found
is a good thing, but does not totally rule-out the possibility of a
function lesion in a difficult-to-find left gland. AS spring
approaches, most ferrets are now starting to shed out. If within 60
days, there is no sign of hair regrowth, I would probably run the
Tennessee panel to see if there is continued estrogen secretion from
that hidden left adrenal.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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