Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Catecholamines (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

Dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine tests

What is this test?

This test measures the levels of catecholamines in your blood. The catecholamine hormones are epinephrine, also called adrenaline; norepinephrine; and dopamine.

Catecholamines are made in the adrenal glands and released when you have physical or emotional stress. These hormones have many functions in the body, from transmitting nerve impulses in the brain to constricting blood vessels and increasing your heart rate. The test can help diagnose certain conditions that affect catecholamine levels.

Three rare tumors can also affect catecholamine levels. The tumor types called pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma are not cancer. They cause high blood pressure that generally goes away if the tumor is taken out. Pheochromocytomas occur in less than 0.2 percent of people with high blood pressure. Neuroblastoma tumors, which are cancer, almost always appear in childhood.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test to help your doctor figure out whether you have certain conditions that cause high blood pressure, severe headaches, a fast heartbeat, and sweating.

You may also have this test if your doctor suspects you have a rare tumor that causes high blood pressure.

Your child may have this test if he or she has symptoms of a tumor that affects catecholamine levels. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Bone pain or a limp

  • "Dancing" eye or limb movement

  • Anemia

  • Weight loss

  • An unusual lump, usually in the abdomen (belly)

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order a urine test to check your catecholamine levels. Your doctor may also order a CT or MRI scan to find the suspected tumor.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Results are given in milligrams (mg). If the blood sample is taken while you are lying down, normal levels are:

  • Dopamine: less than 87 mg

  • Epinephrine: less than 50 mg

  • Norepinephrine: 110 to 410 mg

If the blood sample is taken while you are sitting up, normal levels are:

  • Dopamine: less than 87 mg

  • Epinephrine: less than 60 mg

  • Norepinephrine: 120 to 680 mg

If you have higher levels of catecholamines in your blood, you may have a pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, or neuroblastoma tumor.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Physical and emotional stress can affect your results, as can your diet. Certain medications can also affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

Try to avoid rigorous exercise and stressful situations before your test. Also, be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

 

  

Catecholamines (Blood) - WellSpan Health

Author: Vardigan, Benj
Online Medical Reviewer: Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Last Review Date: 2012-06-18T00:00:00
Published Date: 2012-09-29T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2012-06-26T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to www.mywellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×