Vanillylmandelic Acid and Catecholamines

Alternate Names

  • VMA and Epinephrine
  • Norephinephrine
  • Metanephrine
  • Normetanephrine
  • Dopamine
  • Free Urine Catecholamines

Pheochromocytoma is an adrenal gland tumor; the tumor cells release abnormally high amounts of epinephrine and norepinephrine, both potent hormones that cause constriction of arteries and veins, which results in high blood pressure which does not respond to medical intervention. Dopamine is the precursor of epinephrine and norepinephrine. Metanephrines and normetanephrines are formed when epinephrine and norepinephrine are broken down by the body, and VMA (Vanillylmandelic Acid) is formed when metanephrines and normetanephrines are broken down. All of these hormones, called catecholamines, are found in high levels when a pheochromocytoma is present.

Levels of catecholamines can most accurately be measured using a 24 hour urine collection, but this test has been mostly replaced by a new blood test that is specific to the measurement of metanephrines. There are many medications that can affect VMA levels, and some foods such as vanilla, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, citrus, and licorice will need to be avoided for a period of time before this test.


Comments on Vanillylmandelic Acid and Catecholamines (1 total) Participate in the discussion

Honora Renwick

Posted 6 years ago
Reply   Report spam

Our lab advises that they don\'t test VMA levels in anyone older than 15 years. Why would this be the case?It looks as though they do plasma metanephrines, 24 hr catecholamines and 24 hr metanephrines instead.

0 replies

In a medical emergency, step away from this web site and call for emergency help. Remember, we're not doctors and we don't claim to be able to diagnose your condition. The information and services we provide or display here are merely intended to make you a more knowledgeable patient so that you can have smarter conversations with your actual health care providers.