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Catecholamines - urine
Alternative namesDopamine-urine test; Epinephrine-urine test; Adrenalin-urine test; Vanillylmandelic acid (VMA); Urine metanephrine; Normetanephrine; Norepinephrine-urine test; Urine catecholamines; VMA; HVA; Metanephrine; Homovanillic acid (HVA)
DefinitionThis is a urine test that measures the level of catecholamines or catecholamine metabolites (break-down products).
How the test is performed
Catecholamines can be measured in the blood or urine.
For an infant:
The infant should be checked frequently and the bag changed after the infant has urinated into the bag. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts since lively infants can displace the bag. The urine is drained into the container for transport to the laboratory.
How to prepare for the testCertain foods can increase urinary catecholamines, including coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate, cocoa, citrus fruits, and vanilla. Avoid these for several days prior to the test.
Avoid other factors that can affect the test, including acute stress and vigorous exercise.
Consult your health care provider regarding the need to discontinue drugs that can affect the test. 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.
If the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary.
How the test will feelThe test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.
Why the test is performed
The test is used primarily to screen for, diagnose, and monitor treatment of pheochromocytoma or neuroblastoma .
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical used to transmit impulses between nerve cells) found mainly in the brain. Norepinephrine is the primary neurotransmitter in the sympathetic nervous system (controls the "fight or flight" reaction) and is also found in the brain. Epinephrine is not only a brain neurotransmitter, but also a major hormone in the body.
Note: mg/hour = milligrams per hour; mcg/hour = micrograms per hour.
What abnormal results meanElevated levels of urinary catecholamines may indicate:
What the risks areThere are no risks.
Special considerationsThe accuracy of the test can be affected by several foods and drugs as well as physical activity and stress (See "How to prepare for the test").
Update Date: 8/18/2003David Webner, M.D., Sports Medicine Fellow, Crozer-Keystone Family Practice Program, Springfield, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT