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Adrenocorticotropic Hormone

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

There are other medicines that may affect the test results, so talk with your doctor about any medicines you are taking.

What To Think About

  • The interpretation of the ACTH test is complicated, because many things can change the results. Blood must be collected in special tubes, placed on ice, and processed quickly. The time of day when the blood is drawn can also change the results. ACTH test results should be compared to medical information gathered from other tests, especially the blood cortisol level. To learn more, see the topic Cortisol in Blood.
  • Inferior petrosal sinus sampling is a test that measures the amount of ACTH from a channel (inferior petrosal sinus) near the pituitary gland. This test may be done along with an ACTH blood test when the levels of both ACTH and cortisol are high. It is used to tell the difference between ACTH made by the pituitary gland and ACTH made somewhere else in the body. This test may only be available at large medical centers.


  1. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Last Revised May 17, 2012
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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