Adrenocorticotropic Hormone Stimulation Test with Cosyntropin
(ACTH Stimulation Test)

Alternate Names

  • Cortisol Stimulation Test

ACTH Stimulation Test is a blood test that is used to measure cortisol (steroid) levels in people who have been found to have adrenal insufficiency. You will be given the medication cosyntropin, which acts like ACTH to stimulate cortisol release from the adrenal glands, and blood samples are drawn at specific intervals to measure ACTH levels in your blood.

ACTH Stimulation Test is used to diagnose Addison's disease, and may also be used to help evaluate Cushing's syndrome. Adrenal gland function is normal if cortisol levels increase after administration of cosyntropin; while adrenal gland function is abnormal if cortisol levels either do not increase or only increase a small amount after administration of cosyntropin.

There are three different ACTH Stimulation Tests that may be ordered by your doctor. A Rapid Test is used only to screen for adrenal disease; either a one or three day ACTH stimulation test will need to be done if your cortisol levels are abnormal. For the 24-hour Test, you will be given cosyntropin through an IV over 24 hours, and blood is drawn to measure ACTH levels after the IV is completed. For the 3-day Test, you will be given cosyntropin through an IV for 8 hours on three consecutive days, and blood will be drawn to measure ACTH levels every 12 hours during those three days.

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