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The catecholamines (dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) are derived from tyrosine via a series of enzymatic conversions. The catecholamines are normally present in the plasma in minute amounts, but levels can increase dramatically and rapidly in response to change in posture, environmental temperature, physical and emotional stress, hypovolemia, blood loss, hypotension, hypoglycemia, and exercise..In patients with pheochromocytoma (a potentially curable tumor of catecholamine-producing cells of the adrenal medulla), or less commonly of sympathetic ganglia (paraganglioma), plasma catecholamine levels may be continuously or episodically elevated. It is also used in Diagnosis of Neuroblastoma and Diagnosis of Autonomic Dysfunction or Failure and Autonomic Neuropathy.
At least 72 hours before and during specimen collection, the patient must refrain from using drugs, engaging in strenuous activity, experiencing extreme stress, and smoking.