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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

UW Hospital and Clinics Lab Test Directory

Test Name: Cortisol, Saliva

Test Code(s): SCORT / HCSCORT

CPT Code(s): 82530

Methodology: Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Clinical Significance: Screen for Cushing's syndrome

Days Performed: Mon-Fri, dayshift, as workload dictates.

Turnaround Time: Stat: Not available stat.
Routine: 2 - 7 days.

Specimen Requirements

Specimen: Saliva

Patient Preparation: Do not brush teeth before collecting specimen.  Remove lipstick and lip balms.  Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes prior to specimen collection. Allow at least one hour to  relax before collecting the sample.  High activity or excitement will increase the patient's cortisol level.  Collect the specimen as directed by your health care provider.  Most often, it will be a bedtime collection.

Collection Instructions: To use the Salivette:

A.  Remove top cap of container to expose the round sponge. Do NOT remove the holder that the sponge is sitting in.

B.  Place sponge directly into mouth by tipping container so sponge falls into mouth.  Do NOT touch sponge with fingers.

C.  Keep sponge in mouth.  Very gently chew and roll the sponge for approximately two (2) minutes.  Spit the sponge back into the tube.  Do NOT touch sponge with fingers.

D.  Replace the cap.  Make sure cap is on tightly.

E.  On the Salivette tube, write full name, birth date, date of collection and collection time (use military time or note PM or AM).  

F.  Refrigerate the Salivette tube and take it to the laboratory within three (3) days.

Patient Preparation and Collection Instructions can also be found at Health Facts For You #6948.

Collection Container: Preferred: SARSTEDT Salivette- Blue Cap
Also Acceptable: SARSTEDT Salivette- Clear Cap

Sample Analyzed: Saliva

Volume Required: Preferred: 0.5 mL
Pediatrics: 0.3 mL

Specimen Transport: Transport specimen to UWHC Core Laboratory (B4/220) immediately. Transport with coolant pack if coming from outreach location.

Stability: Ambient: 7 days
Refrigerated: 7 days
Frozen: 60 days


Reference Interval:
0 days and up: 0 - 99 ng/dL


Interpretive Guidelines:


Salivary reference range of less than 100 ng/dL is for bedtime collections only.  Please interpret results from specimens collected other than bedtime with caution.



Additional Information:

A low bedtime salivary cortisol rules out Cushing's syndrome.  Because any type of stress can raise cortisol, an elevated bedtime salivary cortisol result should be confirmed.  A repeat bedtime saliva collection is the simplest means of confirmation.  Bedtime salivary cortisol levels cannot be used to diagnose hypocortisolism or Addison's disease because of the limited sensitivity of the assay method.


This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by the UWHC Clinical Laboratories.  This test meets the standards for clinical testing.  This test should not be regarded as investigational or for research use.  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved or cleared this test; however, the FDA has determined that such clearance or approval is not necessary.

Salivary cortisol

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