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17-hydroxycorticosteroids

Definition

17-hydroxycorticosteroid (17-OHCS) is an inactive product formed when the liver and other body tissues break down the steroid hormone, cortisol. This article discusses the laboratory test to measure the amount of 17-OHCS in urine.

Alternative Names

17-OH corticosteroids; 17-OHCS

How the test is performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet when you get up in the morning.
  • Collect all urine in a special container for the next 24 hours.
  • On day 2, urinate into the container when you get up in the morning.
  • Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period.
  • Label the container with your name, the date, and the time of completion, and return it as instructed.

For an infant, thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on the infant. For males, place the entire penis in the bag and attach the adhesive to the skin. For females, place the bag over the labia. Diaper as usual over the secured bag.

This procedure may take a couple of attempts -- lively infants can move the bag, causing the urine to be absorbed by the diaper. Check the infant often and change the bag after the infant has urinated into it. Drain the urine from the bag into the container given to you by your health care provider.

Deliver the container to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible.

How to prepare for the test

The health care provider will instruct you, if necessary, to stop taking drugs that may interfere with the test.

  • Ampicillin and glucocorticoids can increase 17-OHCS measurements.
  • Estrogens (birth control pills) and dexamethasone can decrease 17-OHCS measurements.

If you are collecting urine from an infant, you may need a couple of extra collection bags.

How the test will feel

The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

This test can help determine if the body is producing too much of the hormone, cortisol. It may be used to diagnose Cushing syndrome.

Normal Values

  • Male: 4 - 14 milligrams per 24 hours
  • Female: 2 - 12 milligrams per 24 hours

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Greater than normal levels of 17-OHCS:

  • Cushing syndrome caused by a tumor in the adrenal gland, the pituitary gland, or somewhere else in the body that releases a hormone called ACTH
  • Severe physical or emotional stress

Greater than normal levels may also occur with:

Lower than normal levels of 17-OHCS may indicate:

What the risks are

There are no risks.

References

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


Review Date: 12/11/2011
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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