How Much Does the ACTH Stimulation Test Cost?
The ACTH stimulation test is designed to determine whether the cortisol level of the body is beyond its normal limits. They may also recommend it if they suspect your adrenal glands aren’t functioning the way they should be. The possible conditions that may cause this include Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiency, Cushing’s disease and pituitary gland dysfunction.
This test is usually ordered for those who demonstrate signs of abnormal cortisol levels such as obesity, muscle weakness, acne, hypertension, and low potassium levels. The said test can also be administered to dogs to detect Cushing’s disease.
How much is it?
- An ACTH stimulation test is performed at hospitals, laboratories, or at a doctor’s clinic, and it is done by a laboratory technician, nurse, or doctor. The cost of the test is between $150 to $250 without health insurance.
- If you have health insurance, consult with the insurance company to see what is covered and what you will have to pay.
What is going to be included?
- The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of your brain and is responsible for producing types of hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone, known as ACTH. ACTH will stimulate the adrenal glands and will release two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones responsible for helping you respond to stress and supporting your immune system.
- The test uses two blood samples and one injection. A blood sample will be taken before and after the procedure, and these samples will help measure the level of cortisol in the blood. After the first blood sample, a small amount of ACTH will be injected. This test is designed to diagnose or exclude primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency. It will also help find measure how your adrenal glands will react to the ACTH in your bloodstream. After the ACTH is injected, you will wait for about 60 minutes and your last blood draw will be taken to compare the two blood results.
- Abnormal rates may mean you have an increased chance of having Addison’s disease, hypopituitarism or acute adrenal crisis. Cortisol levels afterward should be higher than 18 mcg/dl, depending on the dosage. These results will vary among laboratories.
- Once the results are ready, the doctor will read the results and discuss what is best for your health.
What are the extra costs?
- If the test shows an abnormal cortisol level, you may need to purchase medicine or undergo additional medical procedures and/or testing. Then, there is the chance you will have to take the test again to see how your body responded to the treatment.
- Some patients choose to re-administer in order to double-check the results.
Tips to know:
- Before the test begins, most doctors will ask you fast for at least eight hours. This will ensure that the test can offer accurate results.
- It’s also recommended that food high in sodium should be avoided for more than 24 hours before the test. Salt is a common ingredient that can throw off the results.
- It’s also ideal that the patient comes in stress-free. Stress can artificially increase levels and can throw off the test results.
- Common side effects that have been found to happen after the test may include sweating, itchy skin, flushing and even blurred vision.
- The ACTH Stimulation Test is different than an ACTH test because the test only measures the ACTH levels in your blood.
- Some risks, which are similar to getting your blood drawn, will include infection, excessive bleeding, fainting or hematoma. Most patients will feel a throbbing pain in the injection site after the needle has been removed.
How can I save money?
- To avoid repetition of the test, carefully follow the instructions given by your doctor about pre-test preparations. For instance, you need to rest for 30 minutes before the sample is taken and no smoking is allowed for 24 hours beforehand. Also, no food and liquid intake is allowed 12 hours prior. You should also inform your doctor if you are currently taking any medications. If you fail to follow any of these instructions, the test may have to be taken again since the results will be skewed.
- Some doctors and hospitals offer discounts for cash patients.