Catecholamines in Blood
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing your
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Put pressure to the site and then a
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
There is very little chance of a problem from
having blood sample taken from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You can
lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood
sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used
several times a day to treat this.
- Ongoing bleeding can be a
problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and
other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your doctor before your blood sample is taken.
A test for catecholamines measures the
amount of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the blood. These
catecholamines are made by
nerve tissue , the brain, and the
adrenal glands. The test also may measure the amounts of metanephrine and normetanephrine.
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 blood1
Less than 110
picograms per microliter (pg/mL) or less than 599
picomoles per liter (pmol/L)
Less than 140 pg/mL or less than 762
70–750 pg/mL or 381–4,083
200–1,700 pg/mL or 1,088–9,256
Sitting or lying down:
Less than 30 pg/mL or less
than 163 pmol/L
Sitting or lying
Less than 0.50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)
Sitting or lying
Less than 0.90 nmol/L
- High levels of catecholamines,
vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), or metanephrine can mean that 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
- Many blood pressure medicines can also cause high
Low levels of catecholamines usually do not indicate a problem.