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17-Hydroxyprogesterone Lab Test Guide

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 9/12/2010

The 17-hydroxyprogesterone blood test is performed for a number of reasons. Read on to learn more about this lab test.

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    17-hydroxyprogesterone is a blood test performed so that health care providers can measure a patient's 17-OH progesterone level. 17-OH progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the gonads and adrenal glands. This test is also sometimes referred to as progesterone – 17-OH, 17-OHP, and 17-OH progesterone.

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    How this Test is Used

    This test is used to detect, or screen for, as well as keep an eye on treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia. In some cases, this test is performed to rule out other conditions. This test is also done as a normal part of a routine newborn screen, when a young female has symptoms of virilization symptoms like hirsutism, from time to time to monitor CAH treatment, and when a male child experiences premature sexual development. This test may also be used for other genetic mutations, 21-hydroxylase deficiency CAH (up to 75 percent of newborns are affected), infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and rarely for suspected ovarian or adrenal cancers.

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    When is it Ordered?

    17-hydroxyprogesterone is of course ordered as a routine screening for newborns. Certain symptoms may also trigger the need for this test, such as lethargy, dehydration, not eating well, and low blood pressure. Other reasons this test may be ordered, include:

    • Hirsutism
    • Virilization
    • Irregular or absent menses
    • Infertility
    • Early puberty
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    Preparation and Procedure

    Certain drugs and medications may have to be stopped or adjusted before this test because some can cause false test results, such as birth control pills and corticosteroids. This test may also have to be done at a particular time of day, due to it being sensitive to circadian rhythms.

    The test itself is simple. A health care provider will use a needle and insert it into a vein, typically a vein in the crook or the arm or the hand. Most patients will feel a very slight, quick “prick" when the needle is inserted, while others find it more uncomfortable. The injection site may be sore and bruised after the blood draw.

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    What do the Results Mean?

    The results of a patient's test can diagnose a condition, or cause health care providers to perform further testing. Understanding the results is crucial to a patient's, or parent of a patient's, health.

    Normal results are as follows:

    • Cord blood should be 1,000 to 3,000 ng/dL
    • Newborns less than 24 hours old should be less than 100 ng/dL
    • Adults should be less than 200 ng/dL

    Babies with low birth weight have differing normal and abnormal values.

    ng/dL stands for nanograms per deciliter

    High levels could indicate the following:

    • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
    • Adrenal tumors

    If adults' level are higher than 200 ng/dL, it could indicate nonclassical adrenal hyperplasia. If a patient's levels are between 200 and 800 ng/dL, their doctor may recommend they have the ACTH, or adrenocorticotropic hormone, test performed.

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    Resources

    Lab Tests Online. (2010). 17-Hydroxyprogesterone. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from Lab Tests Online: http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/6_17hydroxy/glance.html

    MedlinePlus. (2009). 17-OH Progesterone. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003713.htm