Catecholamines in Urine
How It Feels
There is no pain while collecting a
24-hour urine sample.
There is no chance for problems while collecting
a 24-hour urine sample.
A test for catecholamines measures the
amount of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the urine.
The normal values listed here-called a reference range-are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what’s normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Catecholamines in a 24-hour urine sample
Less than 100
micrograms (mcg) or less than 590
Less than 20 mcg or less than 109
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
|Vanillylmandelic acid (VMA)
Less than 9
milligrams (mg) or less than 45 micromoles
Normal urine values may vary in children depending on
- High levels of free catecholamines,
vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), or metanephrine can mean an adrenal gland tumor
(pheochromocytoma) or another type of tumor that makes
catecholamines is present.
- Any major stress, such as burns, a
whole-body infection (sepsis),
illness, surgery, or traumatic injury, can cause high catecholamine levels.
- Many blood pressure medicines can also cause high catecholamine
Low values may be caused by
diabetes or some
nervous system problems.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- Doing physical exercise.
extreme emotional stress.
- Having surgery, injury, or
- Taking certain medicines, such as aspirin, nitroglycerin,
tricyclic antidepressants, tetracycline, theophylline, or some blood pressure
- Using nicotine, alcohol (ethanol), or
- Taking nonprescription cough, cold, or sinus
- Eating or drinking foods with caffeine.
What To Think About
- The 24-hour urine test is better for finding
high levels of catecholamines than a blood test. For more information on a
catecholamine blood test, see the topic
Catecholamines in Blood.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
||July 9, 2010