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Category Biochemistry >> Metabolic
Test background

Catecholamines (derived from tyrosine residues) are classed as phenethylamines; of these, adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine are the most abundant. They are produced mainly from the adrenal medulla in addition to the post-ganglionic fibres of the sympathetic nervous system, and function as hormones in the vascular system and neurotransmitters in the central/peripheral nervous systems. Their role is one of bringing about physiological changes preparatory to physical activity, eg. increased heart rate/blood pressure and gluconeogenesis. Elevated catecholamine turnover is observed in incidences of phaeochromocytoma and childhood neuroblastoma.

Clinical Indications

Diagnosis of neuroblastoma. Note: for diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma/paraganglioma, urine catecholamines are not recommended. Urine and plasma metanephrines are the front-line tests recommended for the investigation of phaeochromocytoma/paraganglioma.

Reference range

Reference ranges will be given with the report

Sample & container required For paediatric sample a random urine acidified to pH 2 to 4 immediately on receipt in the laboratory is required. Adults: 24 hour acidified urine collection.
Sample volume Paediatrics: minimum 5 mls; Adults: 24 h urine collection
Turnaround time 3 weeks

Not currently performed in house; this is a referred test.