ACTH Stimulation Test

An ACTH stimulation test is done to see if the adrenal glands − located on top of each kidney − are able to make the right amount of hormones called cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones help keep blood pressure and blood sugar normal, as well as maintain salt and water balance in the body.

The ACTH stimulation test is done by giving a medication called Cortrosyn and drawing blood levels of cortisol. Cortrosyn stimulates cortisol production. Cortrosyn is given in two different doses, either a low dose or high dose, depending on what your doctor orders. 

Your child can eat normally before the ACTH stimulation test. It would best if the child wears a short-sleeved shirt to the test.

  • A low-dose stimulation test is done any time of the day. This test takes about 20 minutes.
  • A high-dose stimulation test is usually done in the morning. This test takes about an hour.

Explain what will happen to your child in simple terms that the child can understand.

Your child will go to the Endocrinology Outpatient Clinic for this test. We will measure your child’s height and weight. Then your child will get an IV (intravenous) catheter placed. This is used to give the Cortrosyn medication and to draw the blood samples. Getting the IV may be a little uncomfortable, but it is done quickly.

When the test is complete, the IV catheter is removed. The child is awake throughout the test. Parents may stay with the child throughout the test.

After the testing is completed, your child can go home. Test results are available in two to three weeks. The provider will notify you of the test results.

Your child can return to normal activities and diet after the ACTH stimulation test.

If you have any medical concerns about your child's condition or you have not received the test results within three weeks, call 513-636-4744.


Last Updated 08/2013