A glucagon test measures the amount of a hormone called glucagon in your blood. Glucagon is produced by cells in the pancreas. It helps control blood sugar levels.
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin to draw blood. 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.
The blood is sent to a laboratory. There, a test called radioimmunoassay (RIA) is used to check for the hormone glucagon in the blood.
Your health care provider will tell you if you need to fast (not eat anything) for a period of time before the test.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose. As the level of blood sugar decreases, the pancreas releases more glucagon, and vice versa.
The health care provider may measure glucagon level if a person has symptoms of:
The normal range is 50 - 100 pg/mL.
Note: pg/mL = picograms per milliliter
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
Abnormal results may indicate that the person may have a condition described above under Why the Test Is Performed.
Veins 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 associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
Updated by: Nestoras Mathioudakis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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