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17-Ketosteroids

Definition

17-ketosteroids are substances that form when the body breaks down male steroid sex hormones called androgens and other hormones released by part of the adrenal gland in males and females, and in the testes in males.

This article discusses the laboratory test used to measure the amount of 17-ketosteroids in a urine sample.

How the test is performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet when you get up in the morning.
  • Afterwards, collect all urine in a special container for the next 24 hours.
  • On day 2, urinate into the container when you get up in the morning.
  • Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period.
  • Label the container with your name, the date, the time of completion, and return it as instructed.

For an infant, thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on the infant. For males, place the entire penis in the bag and attach the adhesive to the skin. For females, place the bag over the labia. Diaper as usual over the secured bag.

This procedure may take a couple of attempts -- lively infants can move the bag, causing the urine to be absorbed by the diaper. Check the infant frequently and change the bag after the infant has urinated into it. Drain the urine from the bag into the container provided by your health care provider.

Deliver it to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible upon completion.

How to prepare for the test

Your health care provider will instruct you, if necessary, to discontinue drugs that may interfere with the test.

Drugs that can increase 17-ketosteroids measurements include

  • Antibiotics
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Dexamethasone
  • Meprobamate
  • Phenothiazines
  • Quinidine
  • Secobarbital
  • Spironolactone

Drugs that can decrease 17-ketosteroids measurements include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Estrogens
  • Probenecid
  • Promazine
  • Reserpine
  • Salicylates (prolonged use)
  • Thiazide diuretics

How the test will feel

The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of a disorder associated with abnormal levels of androgens.

Normal Values

Normal values are as follows:

  • Male: 8 to 20 milligrams (mg) per 24 hours
  • Female: 6 to 12 mg per 24 hr

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Increased levels of 17-ketosteroids may indicate:

  • Adrenal tumor
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (very rare)
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Ovarian dysfunction (polycystic ovarian disease)

Decreased levels of 17-ketosteroids may indicate:

  • Addison's disease
  • Castration
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Myxedema
  • Nephrosis

What the risks are

There are no risks.

Special considerations

This test is not done as often as it was in the past because newer tests are used instead.

Excessive weight (obesity) can also interfere with test results.

References

Nieman LK. Adrenal cortex. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 245.

Review Date: 11/15/2009

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.