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Also Known As: Urine Metanephrines, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Dopamine, 24-Hour Urine, Epinephrine, 24-Hour Urine, Fractionation, Urinary Free Catecholamines, Free Catecholamine Fractionation, Norepinephrine, 24-Hour Urine

What Is A Catecholamines, Fractionated, 24-Hour Urine without Creatinine Test?

This test uses a sample of your urine to measure the level of catecholamines in the body. Catecholamines are a group of substances that are released in your blood in response to any physical or emotional stress. The primarily available catecholamines are dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and non-epinephrine. This test measures the amount of these hormones in your urine. Urine testing is preferred over blood testing because the stress of having blood drawn can lead to abnormal catecholamine levels.

Catecholamines are also known as proteins that are neurotransmitters moving the signals in your body and the brain. They are essential for your body's fight or flight mechanism and help control a wide range of functions like blood pressure, heart rate, lipids metabolism, and glucose or sugar metabolism. They are primarily produced in the adrenal glands, where the fluctuating levels are due to physical and emotional stress. However, the results can be different due to blood loss, outside temperature, low blood sugar, vigorous exercises, and moving from a sitting to a standing position or vice versa.

Catecholamines are usually present in your body in small, fluctuating amounts alongside their metabolites. They only increase during and after a stressful situation. 

However, in some cases, tumors like pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas can lead to excessive hormone production. It can cause sudden or persistent hypertension, which leads to severe headaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, and tingling of hands and feet. Both the tumors are rare, and only a few are cancerous. If left untreated, they may continue to grow and worsen your condition over time. Therefore, prompt and accurate diagnosis is required to initiate an effective treatment plan.

What Is The Test Used For?

Your doctor or health care provider can order Catecholamines, Fractionated, 24-Hour Urine without Creatinine test to look for the signs and symptoms of rare tumors called pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. These tumors grow within your adrenal gland and start making excessive catecholamines in the body. Many recommend that these tumors should be surgically removed when possible as they tend to interfere with your regular adrenal function and cause hypertension. The cancerous tumors also carry the risk of spreading to other organs.

Children and older kids can also go through the test if the doctor suspects the presence of neuroblastoma. It is an aggressive nervous system cancer that often begins in the adrenal glands and augments the catecholamine levels.

Why And When Do You Need Catecholamines, Fractionated, 24-Hour Urine without Creatinine Test?

A doctor or physician will order the test if you show symptoms related to pheochromocytoma, neuroblastoma, or paraganglioma. The signs and symptoms of pheochromocytoma include the following:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • On and off high blood pressure
  • Heavy sweating
  • Unusually hard heartbeats
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Severe headaches for an extended period
  • Pale skin
  • Strong and unexplained anxiety

It is important to note here that all these symptoms are not always an indicator of this nervous system tumor. This condition is quite rare, so there is nothing much to worry about!
The signs and symptoms of neuroblastoma include:

  • Bone pain
  • Chest and abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Painless blue-tinged lumps of tissues under the skin
  • Swelling of the legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Wheezing and diarrhea
  • Bulging eyeballs and other changes to your eyes shape and pupils
  • Fever
  • Dark areas around your eyes
  • Unexplained weight loss

What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?

For this test, a 24-hour urine collection is required. All of your urine is saved for 24 hours, and the sample is refrigerated during this time. A preservative is also needed and is mostly provided with the collection container. 
The lab technician will provide you with a container for collecting urine, but emptying the bladder before initiating the test is important. After that, save all the urine you pass in a container. Once 24 hours are over, urinate into the container one last time and hand over your sample to the lab.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

Careful preparation is quite essential for the test as your body's catecholamine levels are sensitive to emotions and physical activity. Certain foods and medications can also hinder the test results, so staying as calm and relaxed as possible is better.  

Before the test, try to avoid certain foods and beverages like bananas, caffeinated colas, coffee, chocolate, citrus fruits, and energy drinks. Do not stop consuming any medications without talking to your doctor. Some drugs that can interfere with your urine test include acetaminophen, cold or sinus medications, antidepressants, amphetamine, insulin, diuretics, and vasodilators.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

There is no risk to having a urine test.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

A high level of catecholamines in the urine when you have signs and symptoms suggests the presence of tumors producing excessive catecholamines in the body. It demonstrates that further examination is required, and imaging studies should be performed to understand the tumor's location once the test results show clear evidence of its presence. This test is quite sensitive and so false positives can easily occur. Your results are easily affected by drugs, stress, smoking, and eating various foods such as caffeine-containing drinks and alcohol. People with moderately elevated levels can consult their doctor to reevaluate the medications, stress level, and diet to look for meddling conditions and substances.

Suppose catecholamines levels are high even when you have received treatment for tumors. In that case, it is likely that the treatment plan was not fully effective, or the tumors have reappeared and need an appropriate follow-up. 

If the levels are normal, it is unlikely for you to have cancerous or benign tumors producing catecholamines.

Related Tests: Plasma Free Metanephrines, Urine Metanephrines, Catecholamines Blood Test

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