Adrenal Vein Sampling

Adrenal vein sampling may be ordered to help diagnose conditions associated with aldosterone excess or deficiency. Aldosterone helps regulate levels of sodium and potassium in the body, which helps control blood pressure, the distribution of fluids in the body, and the balance of electrolytes in the blood.


Adrenal Glands
A high level of aldosterone causes a condition called hyperaldosteronism. Symptoms include high blood pressure, muscle cramps and weakness, and low levels of potassium.  Primary hyperaldosteronism (or Conn’s syndrome) is caused by overproduction of aldosterone by the adrenals, usually as a result of a benign tumor of one of the glands. Secondary hyperaldosteronism can occur as a result of decreased blood flow to the kidneys often caused by renal artery stenosis.

Low aldosterone levels, or hypoaldosterism, may indicate Addison’s disease, characterized by dehydration, low blood pressure, high potassium levels and low sodium levels.

What happens during the procedure?

Conscious sedation is provided prior to and throughout the procedure. You will lie flat on the x-ray table and will be connected to several types of monitoring equipment.  The technologist will prepare the skin over the neck and groin area by cleaning it with an antiseptic solution and place sterile drapes and towels over you to create a sterile work place.

Lidocaine local anesthetic is injected into the skin overlying the right femoral vein in the groin.  Contrast dye is injected to allow visualization of the vessels which supply the adrenal glands.  The contrast causes a brief mild warm feeling as it enters your bloodstream. 

During the test the Interventional Radiologist may ask you to hold your breath for five to fifteen seconds.  In addition, you may be asked to lie perfectly still to prevent sudden movement from blurring the x-ray pictures.
The Interventional Radiologist will then obtain blood samples of the several veins surrounding the adrenal glands. When the procedure is completed, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied over the vein until there is no bleeding (approximately 15 minutes).The procedure takes about one to two hours.

If you have any questions or need to reschedule an appointment please feel free to contact the Interventional Radiology Office at 802- 847-8359. Our business hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Someone is available to take your call after hours for emergencies.

This information is provided by the Fletcher Allen Health Care, Department of Radiology, Division of Interventional Radiology and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact your health care provider.