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Alternative Names Return to top5-HT level; 5-hydroxytryptamine level; Serotonin test
Definition Return to top
Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells. The serum serotonin level is a blood test to measure the amount of serotonin in your body.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test may be done to diagnose carcinoid syndrome. Many patients with carcinoid syndrome will have high levels of serotonin in blood and urine.
Normal Results Return to top
The normal range is 101-283 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Note: 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 Return to top
Higher-than-normal levels may indicate carcinoid syndrome.
Risks Return to top
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks may include:
References Return to top
Bluth MH, Hardin RE, Tenner S, Zenilman ME, Threatte GA. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 22.Update Date: 3/14/2009 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.