What is the workup for hirsutism?

Updated: May 01, 2020
  • Author: George T Griffing, MD; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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Answer

Approximately 50% of women with even minimal hirsutism have excessive androgen. Laboratory studies in hirsutism serve both to confirm the clinical impression of hyperandrogenism and to identify the source of excess androgens, either adrenal or ovarian.

The most important assay is the level of serum testosterone, the major circulating androgen. If the total serum testosterone level is normal, measure the free serum level because hyperandrogenism (and insulin resistance, if present) decreases sex steroid-binding globulin, such that the unbound, biologically active testosterone moiety may be elevated even if the total level is unremarkable.

If indicated based on the findings from the clinical evaluation and laboratory testing, perform ovarian ultrasonography and adrenal computed tomography (CT) scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate for either ovarian or adrenal sources of androgen production.


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