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DHEA-sulfate - serum


Alternative names

DHEA-sulfate blood test measures the amount of DHEA-sulfate in the blood.

How the test is performed

Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and an elastic band is placed around the upper arm to cause the vein to swell with blood.

A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the band is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children:
The area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small glass tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.

How to prepare for the test

No special preparation is necessary.

In infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child's age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following:
  • Infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)
  • Toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)
  • Preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)
  • Schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)
  • Adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is used to evaluate the function of the adrenal glands . DHEA-sulfate is a weak androgen (male hormone) that is produced by the adrenal cortex in both men and women. The adrenal gland is one of the major sources of androgens in women, the other being the ovaries which produce testosterone.

DHEA-S is measured in women exhibiting symptoms of virilism (male body characteristics) or hirsutism (excessive hair growth). It is also in children with precocious puberty .

Normal Values

Normal values for serum DHEA sulfate vary with sex and age. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Normal ranges are as follows:

  • Men: 800-5600 mcg/l
  • Women: 350-4300 mcg/l

Note: mcg/dl = microgram per deciliter

What abnormal results mean

DHEA-S increased by:

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Adrenal carcinoma
  • Virilizing tumors of the adrenals

What the risks are

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins

Special considerations

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Update Date: 2/2/2004

Tarun Jain, M.D., Endocrinology & Infertility Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT
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