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Catecholamines (say "kat-uh-KOH-luh-meens") are hormones made mostly by your adrenal glands as a reaction to stress.
When you feel stressed, these hormones
increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle strength, and
mental alertness. They also lower the amount of blood that goes to the skin and intestines. They increase blood going to the major organs, such as the brain, heart, and
kidneys. This helps your body prepare for "fight-or-flight"
Your body breaks down these hormones and passes them into your urine. This test measures how much of these hormones are in your urine over a 24-hour period.
catecholamine test is done to help diagnose a rare tumor in
the adrenal glands called a pheochromocytoma.
Tumors like this can cause your adrenal glands to release too many hormones. And that can cause high
blood pressure, excessive sweating, headaches, fast heartbeats,
You may be asked to avoid certain foods and fluids for 2 to 3 days before the test. They include:
Do not use tobacco at all during the 24-hour urine
Be sure to keep warm during the 24 hours. Being cold can raise your catecholamine levels.
plenty of fluids during the 24 hours to avoid
Many medicines can change
the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the
over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take.
Your doctor may ask you to stop certain medicines, such as blood
pressure medicines, before the test. Do not take cold or allergy remedies, aspirin, or diet pills for 2 weeks before the
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about
the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form (What is a PDF document?).
This test is usually done at home. You must collect all the urine you produce in a 24-hour period.
Taking a 24-hour urine sample does not cause pain.
A 24-hour urine sample doesn't cause any problems.
A test for catecholamines measures the
amount of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the urine. The test also usually measures the amounts of vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), metanephrine, and normetanephrine.
These numbers are just a guide. The range for "normal" varies from lab to lab. Your lab may have a different range. Your lab report should show what range your lab uses for "normal." Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. So a number that is outside the normal range here may still be normal for you.
Less than 100
micrograms (mcg) or less than 591
Less than 20 mcg or less than 109
15-80 mcg or 89-473 nmol
65-400 mcg or 420-2612 nmol
105-354 mcg or 573-1933 nmol
74-297 mcg or 375-1506
Less than 9
milligrams (mg) or less than 45 micromoles
Normal urine values vary in children depending on
Low values may be caused by
diabetes or some
nervous system problems.
You may not be able to
have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if you:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of:
May 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
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