Advocate BroMenn Medical Center
a patient or visitor a physician or healthcare professional an employer
PrintEmail

 

Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size

medical services home
search by doctor name 
Doctor Name Contains (Smart Search)
OR
search by specialty

search by city/zip code
Find a doctor near your location by entering a city name OR ZIP code.
Near:


Within miles:
0 1 5 10 15 30 30+

search by insurance
Insurance Name Contains (Smart Search)
 (what's this)
 
spacer

a-z health information

a-z health information - Test

Search Health Information   
 

ACTH (cosyntropin) stimulation test

Definition

The ACTH stimulation test measures how well the adrenal glands respond to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. The man-made form of ACTH is called cosyntropin.

Alternative Names

Tests of adrenal reserve; Cortrosyn stimulation test

How the Test is Performed

The test is done the following way:

  • Your blood is drawn.
  • The lab then checks the cortisol level in the blood sample.
  • You then receive a shot (injection) of cosyntropin.
  • After either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on how much cosyntropin you receive, your blood is drawn again.
  • The lab rechecks the cortisol level in the second blood sample.

Along with the blood tests, you may also have a urine cortisol test or urine 17-ketosteroids test, which involves collecting the urine over a 24-hour period.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may need to limit activities and eat foods that are high in carbohydrates 12 to 24 hours before the test. You may be asked to fast for 6 hours before the test. Sometimes, no special preparation is needed.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test can help determine whether your adrenal and pituitary glands are normal. It is most often used when the doctor thinks you have an adrenal gland problem, such as Addison disease or pituitary insufficiency.

Normal Results

An increase in cortisol after stimulation by ACTH is normal. Cortisol level after ACTH stimulation should be higher than 18 to 20 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), depending on the dose of cosyntropin used.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

This test is helpful in finding out if you have:

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Guber HA, Farag AF. Evaluation of endocrine function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 24.

Schroeder E, Wang CCL. Adrenal insufficiency. In: McDermott MT, ed. Endocrine Secrets. 6th ed. Phildelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 30.

Stewart PM, Krone NP. The adrenal cortex. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011: chap 15.


Review Date: 11/7/2013
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
 

quick links patient information health care professional information employer information connect with Advocate

About Advocate | Contact Us | Jobs | SiteMap | Terms of Use | Notice of privacy practices ®Advocate Health Care, Downers Grove, Illinois, USA | 1.800.3.ADVOCATE | TDD 312.528.5030