Catecholamine Tests

Overview of Catecholamine Tests

Catecholamine tests are laboratory tests that measure the concentration of catecholamine hormones, such as adrenaline and dopamine, in the blood. Catecholamines are hormones that affect many body systems, including the heart, blood vessels, metabolism, and the nervous system. These tests are used to aid in the diagnosis of conditions that can affect catecholamine levels in the body, such as pheochromocytoma or neuroblastoma.

Preparation for Catecholamine Tests

Certain medications can affect the results of catecholamine tests, so it is important to inform your physician of any medications that you are currently taking. Medications that can affect catecholamine levels include medications for depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, and asthma. You may be asked to stop taking these medications a few days before the test.

Procedure of Catecholamine Tests

A blood sample is taken in order to measure the hormones. In some cases, multiple samples may be taken over a certain amount of time in order to track catecholamine levels over a period of time. The samples are then analyzed in a laboratory to determine catecholamine hormone levels.

Types of Catecholamine Tests

The most common type of catecholamine test is the free fractionated metanephrine test, which measures the levels of metanephrine (a form of adrenaline) in the blood. Other types of tests that can be used for catecholamine measurement include the fractionated plasma metanephrine test, the norepinephrine test, the epinephrine test, and the dopamine test.

Risks of Catecholamine Tests

The risks associated with catecholamine tests are minimal. These tests are relatively safe, and complications are rare. The needle used for drawing the blood sample may cause brief pain or discomfort.

Why Catecholamine Tests Are Used

Catecholamine tests are used to diagnose pheochromocytoma and neuroblastoma. Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor of the adrenal glands that can cause high levels of catecholamines in the bloodstream. Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that affects the nervous system and can also cause elevated catecholamine levels. Catecholamine tests may also be used to diagnose other conditions, such as certain types of hypertension and Parkinson’s disease.

When Catecholamine Tests Are Ordered

Catecholamine tests may be ordered when a physician suspects that a patient has an underlying condition that affects catecholamine levels. Symptoms that may indicate a need for catecholamine tests include high blood pressure, sweating, rapid heart rate, headache, and chest pain. Catecholamine tests may also be ordered if a patient is taking certain medications that can affect the results.