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Test ID: SGSS Synthetic Glucocorticoid Screen, Serum

Reporting Name

Synthetic Glucocorticoid Screen, S

Useful For

Confirming the presence of listed synthetic glucocorticoids (see Interpretation)


Confirming the cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency


This test is not useful for detection of fluticasone propionate.

Clinical Information

Synthetic glucocorticoids are widely used and have important clinical utility both as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents. The medical use of these agents, as well as their surreptitious use, can sometimes lead to a confusing clinical presentation. Patients exposed to these steroids may present with clinical features of Cushing syndrome but with suppressed cortisol levels and evidence of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression.


This test screens for and quantitates, if present, the following synthetic glucocorticoids: betamethasone, budesonide, dexamethasone, fludrocortisone, megestrol acetate, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone, and triamcinolone acetonide.


The presence of synthetic glucocorticoids in serum indicates current or recent use of these compounds. Since several of these compounds exceed the potency of endogenous cortisol by 1 or more orders of magnitude, even trace levels may be associated with cushingoid features.

Report Available

5 to 9 days

Day(s) Performed


Clinical Reference

1. Cave A, Arlett P, Lee E: Inhaled and nasal corticosteroids: factors affecting the risks of systemic adverse effects. Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Sep;83(3):153-179

2. Bijlsma JWJ, Van Everdingen AA, Huisman M, De Nijs RNJTL, Jacobs JWG: Glucocorticoids in rheumatoid arthritis: effects on erosions and bone. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;966:82-90

3. Sandborn WJ: Steroid-dependent Crohn's disease. Can J Gastroenterol. 2000 Sep;14 Suppl C:17C-22C

4. Benvenuti S, Brandi ML: Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis: pathogenesis and prevention. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2000 Jul-Aug;18(4 Suppl 20):S64-S66

5. Loke TK, Sousa AR, Corrigan CJ, Lee TH: Glucocorticoid-resistant asthma. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2002 Mar;2(2):144-150

6. Fardet L, Petersen I, Nazareth I: Monitoring of patients on long-term glucocorticoid therapy: a population-based cohort study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Apr;94(15):e647. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000647

7. Cronin JJ, McCoy S, Kennedy U, et al: A randomized trial of single-dose oral dexamethasone versus multidose prednisolone for acute exacerbations of asthma in children who attend the emergency department. Ann Emerg Med. 2016 May;67(5):593-601.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2015.08.001

Method Name

Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) Stable Isotope Dilution Analysis

Specimen Type


Ordering Guidance

This method cannot detect the presence of fluticasone propionate in serum. Fluticasone propionate is quickly metabolized to fluticasone 17-beta carboxylic acid in urine. To screen for this metabolite, order 17BFP / Fluticasone 17-Beta-Carboxylic Acid, Random, Urine.

Specimen Required

Collection Container/Tube:

Preferred: Red top

Acceptable: Serum gel

Submission Container/Tube: Plastic vial

Specimen Volume: 2 mL

Collection Instructions: Centrifuge and aliquot serum into a plastic vial.

Specimen Minimum Volume

1.1 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Serum Frozen (preferred) 14 days
  Refrigerated  7 days
  Ambient  24 hours

Reference Values


Cutoff concentrations

Betamethasone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Budesonide: 0.20 mcg/dL

Dexamethasone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Fludrocortisone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Megestrol acetate: 0.10 mcg/dL

Methylprednisolone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Prednisolone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Prednisone: 0.10 mcg/dL

Triamcinolone acetonide: 0.10 mcg/dL


Values for normal patients not taking these synthetic glucocorticoids should be less than the cutoff concentration (detection limit).

Test Classification

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information


LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
SGSS Synthetic Glucocorticoid Screen, S 43141-1


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
23593 Betamethasone 41745-1
23594 Budesonide 41747-7
23595 Dexamethasone 14062-4
23596 Fludrocortisone 41754-3
23600 Megestrol Acetate 41762-6
23601 Methylprednisolone 14186-1
23602 Prednisolone 12727-4
23603 Prednisone 12434-7
23605 Triamcinolone Acetonide 41767-5
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