The Synacthen Test - What is it all about?

The Synacthen Test - What is it all about?

Synacthen test keeps a check on adrenal glands. The test basically aims at the stimulation of the adrenal glands and checks the level of cortisol made by them. Endocrinologist prescribes the test, if they suspect any abnormal hormonal levels, and wants to detect any abnormalities associated with the functioning of the adrenal glands or the pituitary glands.

Adrenal glands or the Pituitary glands.

The adrenal gland looks like a small walnut, which is located just above the kidney. Different parts of adrenal glands produce different hormones. Some of the most common functions regulated by the hormones produced by adrenal glands include:

  1. Regulate and produce hormones in response to stress.
  2. Release hormones that regulate the immune system.
  3. Helps to regulate the blood sugar levels in the blood.

Why is Synacthen Test necessary?

  • Synacthen Test is conducted by injecting a synthetic copy of the hormone ACTH, called as tetracosactide.
  • Tetracosactide or ACTH, when injected into the bloodstream stimulates the adrenal gland to produce the hormone called, cortisol.
  • The adrenal glands work normally when the cortisols are normal.
  • The adrenal glands work abnormally when the cortisols are abnormal. As a result, glands produce a low amount of ACTH (Tetracosactide).
  • Hence, Synacthen test helps to maintain the secretion of ACTH in the adrenal gland.

What happens when you have low ACTH?

  • Muscle Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin pigmentation increases.
  • Salt Cravings
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea, Nausea, and Vomiting

Therefore, other hormonal levels which might be detected to be abnormal include progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) and luteinizing hormone. Consult a doctor to find out more about the details of Synacthen stimulation test.

Written by: Dr. C. Motwani 

Edited by: S. Ray

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