ACTH Stimulation Test
The ACTH test (also called the cosyntropin test, tetracosactide test or Synacthen test) is a medical test usually ordered and interpreted by endocrinologists to assess the functioning of the adrenal glands stress response by measuring the adrenal response to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) and aldosterone.
During the test, a small amount of synthetic ACTH is injected, and the amount of cortisol, and sometimes aldosterone, the adrenals produce in response is measured. This test may cause mild to moderate side effects in some individuals.
This test is used to diagnose or exclude primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency, Addison's disease and related conditions. In addition to quantifying adrenal insufficiency, the test can distinguish whether the cause is adrenal (low cortisol and aldosterone production) or pituitary (low ACTH production). The ACTH stimulation test is recognized as the gold standard assay of adrenal insufficiency, although this test is primarily used to determine the presence of Addison's disease and pituitary impairment. The test is extremely sensitive (97% at 95% specificity) to primary adrenal insufficiency, but less so to secondary adrenal insufficiency (57-61% at 95% specificity); while secondary adrenal insufficiency may thus be dismissed by some interpreters on the basis of the test, additional testing may be called for if probability of secondary adrenal insufficiency is particularly high.
Adrenal insufficiency is a potentially life-threatening condition. Treatment should be initiated as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed, or sooner if the patient presents in apparent adrenal crisis.
Read more about ACTH Stimulation Test: Versions of The Test, Preparation, Administration, Potential Side Effects, Other Hormones and Chemicals That Will Rise in The ACTH Stimulation Test, Simple Diagnostic Chart
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