Alternate Name: Cortisol

  | Compound F, Hydrocortisone

SAL Code:






Turn Around Time:

1 day







Performing Laboratory:

Sherman Abrams Laboratory

Specimen Requirements:

Primary Tube:


Primary Substance:




Stable Ambient:

4 days

Stable Fridge:

7 days

Stable Frozen:

30 days

Rejection Criteria:

Improper labeling

Clinical Info:

Determine glucocorticoid status. A cortisol test may be used to help diagnose Cushing syndrome, a condition associated with excess cortisol, or to help diagnose adrenal insufficiency or Addison disease, conditions associated with deficient cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that plays a role in the metabolism of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates, among other functions. Normally, the level of cortisol in the blood rises and falls in a "diurnal variation" pattern, peaking early in the morning, then declining throughout the day and reaching its lowest level about midnight. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and the hypothalamus in the brain and the pituitary gland regulate the production. Blood cortisol testing evaluates both protein-bound and free cortisol while urine and saliva testing evaluate only free cortisol. Additional or alternative cortisol testing might include: Cortisol, AM (SAL# 790), cortisol, PM (SAL# 791) or cortisol, urinary free (SAL# 10034).

Additional Information:

The time of sample collection must be considered when interpreting results due to the cortisol secretion circadian rhythm. Severe stress can also give rise to elevated cortisol levels. Serum cortisol concentrations normally show a diurnal variation. 3 Maximum concentrations are usually reached early in the morning and then concentrations decline throughout the day to an evening level that is about half of the morning concentration; therefore, for interpretation of results, it is important to know the collection time of the serum sample. The cortisol status determines the function or malfunction of the adrenal gland, the pituitary, and the hypothalamus. Thereby, cortisol serum concentrations are used for monitoring several diseases with an overproduction (eg, Cushing syndrome) or underproduction (eg, Addison disease) of cortisol and for monitoring several therapeutic approaches (eg, dexamethasone suppression therapy in Cushing syndrome and hormone replacement therapy in Addison disease).

Sample Collection:

Collect patient samples using standard phlebotomy techniques. Click here for additional collection instructions.

Test Limitations:

Pregnancy, contraceptives, and estrogen therapy give rise to elevated cortisol concentrations. In samples from patients who have been treated with prednisolone, methylprednisolone, or prednisone, falsely elevated concentrations of cortisol may be determined.

Specimen Handling Instructions:

Maintain at ambient temperature; or refrigerated if more than 12 hours. Avoid exposure to heat or freezing temperatures.

Test Information: