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Catecholamines - blood
Alternative namesNorepinephrine - blood; Epinephrine - blood; Adrenalin - blood; Dopamine - blood
DefinitionThis test measures the level of catecholamines in the plasma portion of blood.
How the test is performed
Catecholamines are more often measured with a urine test than with this blood test, although the blood test is sometimes used.
Adult or child:
A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an airtight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the tourniquet 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 .
Infant or young child:
How to prepare for the test
Certain foods can increase catecholamine levels including coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate, cocoa, citrus fruits, and vanilla. Avoid these foods for several days prior to the test, particularly if both serum and urine catecholamines are to be measured.
Avoid other interfering factors:
Consult your health care provider regarding the need to discontinue potentially interfering drugs. Drugs that can increase catecholamine measurements include caffeine , levodopa, lithium, aminophylline, chloral hydrate, clonidine, disulfiram, erythromycin, insulin, methenamine, methyldopa, nicotinic acid (large doses), quinidine, tetracyclines, and nitroglycerin.
Drugs that can decrease catecholamine measurements include clonidine, disulfiram, guanethidine, imipramine, MAO inhibitors, phenothiazines, salicylates, and reserpine.
Never discontinue any medication without first consulting your health care provider.
Infants and children:
How the test will feelWhen the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people may feel moderate pain, while others may feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
This test is used primarily to screen for, diagnose, and monitor treatment of pheochromocytoma or neuroblastoma .
Catecholamines are chemically similar small molecules derived from tyrosine, an amino acid. The major catecholamines are dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (which used to be called adrenalin).
Epinephrine: 20 ng/100 mL
Norepinephrine: 60 ng/100 mL
Note: ng/mL = nanograms per milliliter
What abnormal results meanElevated levels of blood catecholamines may indicate the following:
What the risks are
The test's accuracy is affected by several foods and drugs as well as such things as physical activity and stress .
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 from some people than from others.
Update Date: 5/20/2003Bridget Martell, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT