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Vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) and other catecholamine metabolites (homovanillic acid [HVA] and dopamine) are typically elevated in patients with catecholamine-secreting tumors (eg, neuroblastoma, pheochromocytoma, and other neural crest tumors). VMA and HVA levels may also be useful in monitoring patients who have been treated as a result of one of the above-mentioned tumors.
Supporting a diagnosis of neuroblastoma
Monitoring patients with a treated neuroblastoma
Vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) and/or homovanillic acid concentrations are elevated in more than 90% of patients with neuroblastoma; both tests should be performed. A positive test could be due to a genetic or nongenetic condition. Additional confirmatory testing is required.
A normal result does not exclude the presence of a catecholamine-secreting tumor.
Elevated VMA values are suggestive of a pheochromocytoma, but they are not diagnostic.
Administration of L-dopa may falsely increase vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) results. Patients receiving L-dopa should stop taking it for 24 hours before and during the collection.
All patients receiving L-dopa should be identified to the laboratory when VMA and homovanillic acid (HVA) tests are ordered.
Values are more commonly elevated during a hypertensive episode.
Values may be normal in some individuals with a pheochromocytoma.
Bactrim may interfere with detection of the analyte. All patients taking Bactrim should be identified to the laboratory when VMA and HVA tests are ordered.
In the past, this test has been used to screen for pheochromocytoma. However, VMA is not the analyte of choice to rule out a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. Recommended tests for this purpose are:
-PMET / Metanephrines, Fractionated, Free, Plasma
-METAF / Metanephrines, Fractionated, 24 Hour, Urine
-CATU / Catecholamine Fractionation, Free, 24 Hour, Urine
<1 year: <25.0 mg/g creatinine
1 year: <22.5 mg/g creatinine
2-4 years: <16.0 mg/g creatinine
5-9 years: <12.0 mg/g creatinine
10-14 years: <8.0 mg/g creatinine
> or =15 years (adults): <7.0 mg/g creatinine
1. Hyland K, Biaggioni I, Elpeleg ON, et al: Disorders of neurotransmitter metabolism. In Physician's Guide to the Laboratory Diagnosis of Metabolic Diseases. Edited by N Blau, M Duran, ME Blaskovics. London, UK, Chapman and Hall Medical, 1996, pp 79-98
2. Gitlow SE, Bertrani LM, Rausen A, et al: Diagnosis of neuroblastoma by qualitative and quantitative determination of catecholamine metabolites in urine. Cancer 1970;25(6):1377-1383
3. Strenger V, Kerbl R, Dornbusch HJ, et al: Diagnostic and prognostic impact of urinary catecholamines in neuroblastoma patients. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2007;48(5):504-509
4. Barco S, Gennai I, Reggiardo G, et al: Urinary homovanillic and vanillylmandelic acid in the diagnosis of neuroblastoma: report from the Italian Cooperative Group for Neuroblastoma. Clin Biochem 2014 June;47(9):848-852