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17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test

Last updated Oct. 30, 2015

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • 17-OHCS Urine Levels Test
  • Corticoids 17-OH Urine Levels Test
  • Porter-Silber Chromogens Urine Levels Test

What is the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test? (Background Information)

  • 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids (17-OHCS) are breakdown products of cortisol and other adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTHs)
  • Cortisol is a glucocorticoid stress hormone important for its anti-inflammatory effects. It also releases stored nutrients for immediate use
  • Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands, which are two pyramid-shaped organs that each sit atop each kidney. Secretion occurs upon stimulation by ACTH from the pituitary gland
  • Glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, are released when the body is in a state of physical or mental exertion. After glucocorticoids are broken down, the resulting 17-OHCS is removed from the body through urine
  • The 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test measures levels of 17-OHCS in urine. It is used to detect abnormalities in glucocorticoid hormone production and function

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test: 

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Altered mental status
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Craving for salty food
  • Swelling of the face (“moon face”)
  • Altered posture (“buffalo hump”)
  • Abnormal hair growth

How is the Specimen Collected for the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for 17-Hydroxycorticosteroid Urine Test:

Sample required: Urine 

Process of obtaining a urine sample in adults: Urination into a sterile container over a 24-hour period.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test; however, one may be advised to drink 6-8 glasses of water or other fluids prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Urine Test Result?

The significance of the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroid Urine Test result is explained:

  • An elevated 17-Hydroxycorticosteroid Urine Test value may indicate:
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Adrenal cancer
    • Hyperpituitarism
    • Eclampsia
    • Hyperthyroidism 
  • A decreased 17-Hydroxycorticosteroid Urine Test value may indicate:
    • Addison’s disease
    • Adrogenital syndrome
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Hypopituitarism

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Excessive stress prior to testing may interfere with the results of the 17-Hydroxycorticosteroid Urine Test

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

The following DoveMed website links are some useful resources for additional information:



Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Grossman, A. B. (2015). Addison disease. Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/adrenal-gland-disorders/addison-disease

Kee, J. L. (2010). Laboratory and diagnostic tests with nursing implications (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Martini, F., Nath, J. L., & Bartholomew, E. F. (2012). Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology (9th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

Williamson, M. A., Snyder, L. M., & Wallach, J. B. (2011). Wallach's interpretation of diagnostic tests (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 30, 2015
Last updated: Oct. 30, 2015