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Laboratory testing of catecholamines

Catecholamines are hormones of similar structure produced by the adrenal medulla. The excretion of catecholamines (adrenaline, dopamine, noradrenaline) into the bloodstream is usually due to physical or emotional stress.

What is the purpose of the test?

The test helps diagnose an adrenal tumour or other neuroendocrine tumour.

In which cases is it recommended to perform the test?

The test is recommended if the patient develops symptoms of hypertension that persist or recur for a long time. Such symptoms include severe headaches (typically in the back of the neck), frequent dizziness, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.


What sample is needed for the test?

The test requires 24-hour urine (total urine produced over a 24-hour period). The collected urine should be stored in a refrigerator during this time interval.

If the patient is taking medication, it is recommended that they consult their physician before the test. Drugs, diet, and physical activity all affect catecholamine levels, so it is especially important that the result reflects a real metabolic situation.

A blood sample taken from a vein is needed to determine the level of catecholamines in the blood.

What can the result indicate?

Catecholamines are normally produced in larger amounts when some stress affects the body. Too elevated level of catecholamine in the body may indicate a tumour, but further tests may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis.

What to do after the test?

In all cases, please consult the specialist who ordered the test with the result.

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