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What is this test?
Sysnthesis and Metabolism of Catecholamines (USMLE)

Catecholamine urine testing CATU is used to diagnose certain diseases that increase catecholamine production. The test is often combined with a catecholamine blood test. False positive results do occur. A doctor usually orders CATU to look for signs of pheochromocytoma , a type of tumor that grows within your adrenal glands and makes excess catecholamines. They also carry a risk of being cancerous and spreading to other organs. In children, a CATU may be ordered if a doctor suspects the presence of a neuroblastoma. This is an aggressive nervous system cancer that often starts in the adrenal glands and can increase catecholamine levels.

The sooner a child is diagnosed with a neuroblastoma, the better their chances of survival. Your doctor will order a CATU to see if you have a pheochromocytoma, a neuroblastoma, or a paraganglioma, a group of rare nervous system tumors. Pheochromocytomas are actually very rare tumors. CATU measures the amount of catecholamines in your urine.

Levels fluctuate greatly during the day. Further tests will be needed if you have high levels of catecholamines. These tests may include checking for byproducts of catecholamine metabolism in the urine, such as metanephrines and vanillylmandelic acid, as well as blood tests and imaging tests to look for tumors.


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No preparation is necessary for this test, but several things can interfere with your catecholamine level, including:. Your doctor will give you a list of what to avoid before taking your test. If your child is scheduled for CATU and you breastfeed, tell your doctor. Certain substances can pass through breast milk. Follow all instructions given to you by the laboratory. Allied Health Professionals. Planning For Your Visit. During Your Consultation. Collecting Your Medication. Emergency Care.

Patient Liaison Service. Pre-Admission Procedures.


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Admission Day. During Your Stay. Going for Surgery.

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Giving Birth. Ward Virtual Tour. Contact Us. Visiting a Patient. Getting to SGH.

All About Catecholamines in the Stress Response

Getting to Academia. SGH Museum. Public WiFi. Pay Online. Financial Counselling Online. A test for catecholamines measures the amount of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the urine. The test also usually measures the amounts of vanillylmandelic acid VMA , metanephrine, and normetanephrine.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses.

All About Catecholamines in the Stress Response

Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab. Less than micrograms mcg or less than nanomoles nmol. Less than 9 milligrams mg or less than 45 micromoles mcmol.

Low values may be caused by diabetes or some nervous system problems. Author: Healthwise Staff. Medical Review: E. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions. To learn more visit Healthwise.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated. Nervous System Adrenal Glands. Test Overview A test for catecholamines measures the amount of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, metanephrine, and dopamine in the urine. Why It Is Done A catecholamine test is done to help diagnose a tumor in the adrenal glands called a pheochromocytoma.

How To Prepare You may be asked to avoid the following foods and fluids for 2 to 3 days before having this test: Caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate Amines. These are found in bananas, walnuts, avocados, fava beans, cheese, beer, and red wine. Any foods or fluids with vanilla Licorice Aspirin Do not use tobacco at all during the hour urine collection.

How It Is Done hour urine sample You start collecting your urine in the morning. When you first get up, empty your bladder but do not save this urine. Write down the time that you urinated to mark the beginning of your hour collection period. For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine.