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Heart Disease Health Center

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Catecholamines in Urine

How It Is Done

This test is usually done at home. You must collect all the urine you produce in a 24-hour period.

  • You start collecting your urine in the morning. When you first get up, empty your bladder. But do not save this urine. Write down the time that you urinated to mark the beginning of your 24-hour collection period.
  • For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine. Your doctor or lab will usually provide you with a large container that holds about 1 gal (4 L). The container has a small amount of preservative in it. Urinate into a small, clean container. Then pour the urine into the large container. Don't touch the inside of the container with your fingers.
  • Keep the large container in the refrigerator when you aren't using it.
  • Empty your bladder for the last time at or just before the end of the 24-hour period. Add this urine to the large container, and record the time.
  • Do not get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the urine sample.

How It Feels

Taking a 24-hour urine sample does not cause pain.


A 24-hour urine sample doesn't cause any problems.


A test for catecholamines measures the amount of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the urine. The test also usually measures the amounts of vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), metanephrine, and normetanephrine.


These numbers are just a guide. The range for "normal" varies from lab to lab. Your lab may have a different range. Your lab report should show what range your lab uses for "normal." Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. So a number that is outside the normal range here may still be normal for you.

Catecholamines in a 24-hour urine sample 1
Free catecholamines

Less than 100 micrograms (mcg) or less than 591 nanomoles (nmol)


Less than 20 mcg or less than 109 nmol


15-80 mcg or 89-473 nmol


65-400 mcg or 420-2612 nmol


105-354 mcg or 573-1933 nmol


74-297 mcg or 375-1506 nmol

Vanillylmandelic acid (VMA)

Less than 9 milligrams (mg) or less than 45 micromoles (mcmol)

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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