Catecholamines, plasma-13512

Test info

Catecholamines, plasma
Catecholamines, fractionated
Plasma catecholamines

Diagnose pheochromocytoma and those paragangliomas which may secrete epinephrine, norepinephrine, or both. Such tumors may cause paroxysmal or persistent hypertension. 


EDTA plasma
3.0 mL
2.2 mL

 Invert to mix with preservatives immediately after collection

  1. Centrifuge and transfer the plasma to labeledScrew-cap polypropylene frozen transport vial/tube - 4mL (LabCorp)
  2. Freeze at -20°C within one hour after collection
  3. Transport frozen.

The time between blood collection and the preparation of plasma is quite critical; if the time exceeds one hour, catecholamine values increase (when blood is kept at 4ºC) or decrease (when left at 20ºC).

Heparin plasma

Dk green heparin (Li or Na), no gel



Frozen (preferred) - 2 weeks

Ambient - 2 hours

  • Specimen not drawn in correct tube
  • Plasma not received frozen
  • Thawed specimen
  • Inadequate patient preparation


LabCorp Burlington (084152): R-LC
3 - 6 days

High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical (EC) detection

Clinical and Interpretive info


Norepinephrine, plasma:
0 to 1 year: 0−659 pg/mL
1 to 18 years: 0−611 pg/mL
18 years and older: 0−874 pg/mL

Epinephrine, plasma:
0 to 1 year: 0−34 pg/mL
1 to 18 years: 0−80 pg/mL
18 years and older: 0−62 pg/mL

Dopamine, plasma:
0 to 1 year: 0−42 pg/mL
1 to 18 years: 0−32 pg/mL
18 years and older: 0−48 pg/mL


Investigation of hypertensive patients, especially younger individuals, particularly when hypertension is paroxysmal, suggesting pheochromocytoma. Plasma catecholamines with urinary metanephrines and VMA are a recommended test battery for pheochromocytoma.Others recommend plasma catecholamines when urinary collections are not diagnostic. Work up multiple endocrine adenomatosis, type II. Used also in diagnosis of disorders related to the nervous system and in assessment of resuscitation.

The adrenal medullary catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine, and their precursor, dopamine) are rapidly metabolized materials with intense vasoactivity, among many other properties. They can be synthesized by extra-adrenal cells or neoplasms of the APUD system. They are pathogenic in the episodic hypertension of pheochromocytoma, and will be elevated during and immediately after such a paroxysm. However, levels may be normal during asymptomatic intervals. Urine catecholamines, metanephrines, VMA, and HVA provide additive information. A clonidine-suppression test has been described; failure to suppress plasma catecholamines with clonidine supports the diagnosis.


Result 2666-6