Catecholamine Urine Test

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-24 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

This test is performed to diagnose hypertension secondary to pheochromocytoma. It is also used to detect the presence of neuroblastomas and other rare adrenal tumors.[1], [2]


  • A pheochromocytoma is a tumore of the chromaffin cells within the adrenal medulla of the brain that frequently secretes abnormally high levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine.
  • A 24-hour urine test is preferable to a blood test as catecholamine secretion from the tumor may be episodic and could be missed at any time during the day.
  • The urine provides a specimen that reflects the catecholamine production over an entire day.
  • The test is best performed when symptoms (such as hypertention) of the potentialo adrenal tumor are significant.

Patient Preparation

  • Factors which can cause increased levels:
Drugs: alcohol (ethyl), aminophylline, caffeine, chloral hydrate, clonidine (prolonged therapy), contrast media (containing iodine), disulfiram, epinephrine, erythromycin, insulin, methenamine, methyldopa, nicotinic acid (large doses), nitroglycerin, quinidine, riboflavin, and tetracyclins
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels:
Drugs: guanethidine, reserpine, and salicylates

Clinical Implications


High levels indicate

Low levels indicate:

  • None indicated

Associated Tests

  • Pheochromocytoma suppression and provocative tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.
  2. Weatherby Dicken, Ferguson Scott (2002) Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis: Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Functional Perspective, Bear Mountain.