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Measurement of hormones 

Measurement of hormones
Chapter:
Measurement of hormones
Author(s):

Mike Wallace

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199235292.003.1040
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date: 19 November 2019

The role of accurate and reliable laboratory testing is particularly important for patients with potential endocrine disorders. The revolution which has taken place in the past 50 years in the methodology of hormone measurement is thus of considerable significance to this patient group. It is difficult to imagine that not too long ago common hormone measurements, such as thyroid function tests, took more than a week to produce. Now we live in a world where same day turnaround is the norm for the high throughput commonly requested tests. This is largely due to advances in the way hormones are measured and results delivered to the practising clinical endocrinologist.

Measuring hormones has always been a challenge as most circulate at extremely low concentrations, typically in the pico- (10–12) or nanomolar (10–9) range, and often in a milieu of closely related and potentially interfering compounds making great demands on method sensitivity and specificity. The most common procedures currently used are immuno- and immunometric assays but gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) also have a place. Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is rapidly gaining acceptance for a limited number of hormone measurements.

It is not the aim of this chapter to provide precise detail on hormone measurement methodology but rather to overview general principles and applications of methods in current use. Attention is drawn to preanalytical and analytical problems which could have significant clinical consequences if not recognized.

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