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IHC - Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)

IHC - Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)

The Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) immunohistochemistry (IHC) test is a type of diagnostic study that is performed on tissue samples to identify and measure the presence of ACTH. ACTH is a hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland, a small gland located at the base of the brain. This hormone plays a crucial role in regulating levels of the steroid hormone cortisol, released by the adrenal gland.

ACTH acts by stimulating the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol. Cortisol is a vital hormone that plays diverse roles throughout the body, including managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure, increasing blood sugar, and controlling the sleep/wake cycle.

  • Test NameIHC - Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)
  • Sample TypeTissue
  • Preparations RequiredNo specific patient preparation is required for this test.
  • Report Time5 days

Why might I need an IHC - ACTH test?

You might need an IHC - ACTH test if your doctor suspects that you have a pituitary or adrenal disorder, such as Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, or adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms of these conditions may include fatigue, Muscle Weakness, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and Irregular Menstrual Cycles in women.

Is fasting required for the IHC - ACTH test?

No, fasting is not required for the IHC - ACTH test. This test is performed on a tissue sample, usually obtained through a biopsy or during surgery.

Home Sample Collection Process

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Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Reporting of the sample at lab
Reporting of the sample at lab
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Download Reports
Frequently Asked Questions

The IHC - ACTH test provides information about the presence and quantity of ACTH in a tissue sample. This can help your doctor to determine whether a pituitary or adrenal disorder is causing your symptoms.

The frequency of testing depends on your specific circumstances, such as the nature of your symptoms, your medical history, and whether you're currently being treated for a pituitary or adrenal disorder. Your doctor will provide guidance based on your individual health status.

There is no specific 'normal' range for the IHC - ACTH test, as it's typically used to visualize the presence of ACTH in tissue samples. The results will be interpreted by a pathologist in the context of your overall health and other test results.

No special precautions are required before undergoing an IHC - ACTH test. However, you should inform your doctor of any medications or supplements you're taking, as some could potentially interfere with your test results.

Several factors can affect ACTH levels, including stress, infection, injury, and medications such as steroids. Conditions that affect the pituitary or adrenal glands, such as tumors or other diseases, can also significantly impact ACTH levels.

High levels of ACTH could indicate conditions like Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, or pituitary tumors. On the other hand, low levels of ACTH may suggest adrenal tumors or an underactive pituitary gland. Abnormal levels should be further investigated to determine the underlying cause.

If your test results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend further testing to determine the cause of the abnormal ACTH levels. This might include additional hormonal tests, imaging studies, or possibly a biopsy of the pituitary or adrenal gland.

If your test results indicate abnormal ACTH levels, it would be essential to consult with an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is a specialist in hormonal disorders and can provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.

Yes, the IHC - ACTH test can help detect a pituitary tumor. Pituitary tumors often overproduce certain hormones, including ACTH. Elevated ACTH levels in a tissue sample may suggest the presence of a pituitary tumor, specifically an ACTH-secreting tumor known as a corticotroph adenoma. However, additional diagnostic tests are usually needed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the best treatment approach.

The IHC - ACTH test is highly accurate in detecting the presence and quantity of ACTH in tissue samples. However, the interpretation of the results should be done within the context of the patient's overall clinical picture, including symptoms and results from other diagnostic tests.

As the IHC - ACTH test is performed on a tissue sample, the risks are primarily associated with the procedure used to collect the tissue, such as a biopsy or surgery. These risks can include infection, bleeding, or reaction to anesthesia. The IHC test itself does not pose any risks.

A blood ACTH test measures the level of ACTH in the blood, whereas the IHC - ACTH test measures the presence and quantity of ACTH in a tissue sample. The IHC - ACTH test can provide more detailed information about the location and extent of ACTH production in the body.

Yes, it is possible. Some pituitary or adrenal disorders may not cause a noticeable increase or decrease in ACTH levels. For example, some pituitary tumors do not produce excess hormones. In such cases, symptoms might arise from the tumor's growth and pressure on surrounding structures rather than hormone excess. Therefore, normal ACTH levels do not necessarily rule out all pituitary or adrenal disorders.

Your doctor will consider the results of the IHC - ACTH test along with your symptoms, medical history, and the results of any other tests you've had. Treatment plans are highly individualized and can range from observation and monitoring to medication, radiation therapy, or surgery, depending on the specific diagnosis and severity of the condition.

The IHC - ACTH test provides valuable insights into hormonal health and helps doctors diagnose and manage various adrenal and pituitary disorders. Though the understanding of hormonal levels and their impact on the body might seem complicated, with the guidance of a specialist, you can navigate these complexities and take essential steps towards better health. Remember, it's always important to discuss any concerns or questions about your test results with your doctor to fully understand your unique health situation.

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