Catecholamines - plasma

Last updated: Wednesday, 31, March, 2004

MBS Online Search Page: Click here for details

Item Process
Specimen

The patient should rest for 30 minutes after insertion of an indwelling cannula, to allow return to a basal state.

10 mL blood in an EDTA tube.

Some laboratories require a special EDTA/metabisulphite tube.

Specimen must be transported rapidly to the laboratory on melting ice, centrifuged without delay, and the plasma stored frozen.

Method

HPLC, radiometric assay.

Reference Interval

Varies with laboratory, typically:
Adrenaline: <0.3 nmol/L
Noradrenaline: <2.5 nmol/L
Dopamine: <0.5 nmol/L

Application

Used as an alternative to urine catecholamine studies in the diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma (adrenaline, noradrenaline) or neuroblastoma (dopamine).

May be supplemented with plasma metanephrine assays.

Interpretation

Elevated levels suggest the presence of tumour.

If clinical uncertainty exists and the tumour cannot be located by diagnostic imaging, a clonidine suppression test may be indicated.
See Clonidine suppresion test.

Reference

Lenders JW et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002; 970: 29-40.