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ACTH Stimulation Test

What is an 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 provider orders.

Before the ACTH Stimulation Test

It is important to be off steroids before having this test done. Contact your provider to discuss a plan. Your child can eat normally before the ACTH stimulation test. It would be best if the child wears a short-sleeved shirt to the test.

  • A low-dose stimulation test is done any time of the day and takes about one hour.
  • A high-dose stimulation test is usually done in the morning and takes about two hours.

Discussing the test ahead of time with your child is helpful.

During the ACTH Stimulation Test

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 (small thin tube) placed in the arm. 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, and parents may stay by their child's side the entire time.

After the ACTH Stimulation Test

After the testing is completed, your child can go home. Test results are available in two to three weeks after testing is completed. Labs will show up in MyChart as results come in. 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 06/2022

Reviewed By Michelle Lawrence, RN
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To learn more, schedule an appointment, or refer a patient, contact the Division of Endocrinology. Contact Us