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Serotonin blood test

Definition

The serotonin test measures the level of serotonin in the blood.

Alternative Names

5-HT level; 5-hydroxytryptamine level; Serotonin test

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel slight pain. Others feel a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells.

This test may be done to diagnose carcinoid syndrome. Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms associated with carcinoid tumors. These are tumors of the small intestine, colon, appendix, and bronchial tubes in the lungs. People with carcinoid syndrome often have high levels of serotonin in the blood.

Normal Results

The normal range is 50 to 200 ng/mL (0.28 to 1.14 µmol/L).

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A higher-than-normal level may indicate carcinoid syndrome.

Risks

There is very little risk in having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another, and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) - serum or blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:1010-1011.

Hande KR. Neuroendocrine tumors and the carcinoid syndrome. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 232.

Siddiqi HA, Salwen MJ, Shaikh MF, Bowne WB. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 22.

Review Date:2/13/2017
Reviewed By:Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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