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The Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) assay is a blood test that measures the level of IGF-1 in the blood. IGF-1 is a hormone produced by the liver in response to stimulation by growth hormone (GH). The test is used to evaluate pituitary function and to diagnose growth hormone disorders such as gigantism and acromegaly. The IGF-1 test is often performed in conjunction with the GH stimulation test, which measures GH levels in response to various stimuli. The IGF-1 test is a simple and non-invasive procedure that requires only a blood sample from an arm vein.

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Purpose of the test

The Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) assay is used to evaluate pituitary function and diagnose growth hormone disorders. The test measures blood levels of IGF-1, a hormone produced by the liver in response to growth hormone (GH) stimulation. The IGF-1 test is often performed in conjunction with the GH stimulation test, which measures GH levels in response to various stimuli.

The IGF-1 assay is important for several reasons:

- To identify diseases and conditions caused by deficiency and overproduction of growth hormone (GH), such as gigantism and acromegaly.
- To detect diseases of the pituitary gland that can cause a variety of symptoms, including slow growth, short stature, delayed puberty, decreased bone density, decreased muscle strength, and elevated lipids.
- To monitor the effectiveness of growth hormone replacement therapy.

Early detection of growth hormone disorders is important because it can help prevent serious complications. For example:

- Gigantism can cause excessive height and weight gain, joint pain, vision problems, and heart disease.
- Acromegaly can cause enlarged hands and feet, changes in facial features, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2), high blood pressure (HTN), and heart disease.

If these conditions are left untreated or undiagnosed for a long time, they can lead to serious health problems. Therefore, it is important to perform this test if you have symptoms suggesting insufficient or excessive GH production or if you are being treated for GH abnormalities.

Who Should Get Tested

The insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) assay is indicated for several groups of people, including

- Children who are growing slower than normal, who are short, or who have developmental delays.
- Adults who have decreased bone density, decreased muscle strength, and increased lipids.
- Individuals with symptoms of gigantism (in children) or acromegaly (in adults) consistent with excessive GH and IGF-1 production.
- People being treated for GH abnormalities.

In addition to these groups, IGF-1 testing may be recommended for people with other medical conditions that affect growth hormone production or pituitary function. These conditions include

- Hypopituitarism: a condition in which the pituitary gland does not produce enough hormones.
- Turner syndrome: a genetic disorder that affects growth and development in females.
- Prader-Willi syndrome: a genetic disorder that causes poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger.

Anyone experiencing symptoms that suggest insufficient or excessive GH production, or who has any of the above conditions, should talk to their healthcare provider about whether an IGF-1 test is right for them. Early detection and treatment can help prevent serious complications associated with growth hormone disorders.

Preparing for the Test
Depending on the type of cholesterol test, you may be required to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test. This means avoiding all food and drinks except water. Fasting is usually required for a lipid panel, which measures LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, as they can affect your test results.
Avoid alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours before the test, as alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
Avoid heavy exercise for 24 hours before the test, as this can also affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Avoid smoking or using any nicotine products for at least 30 minutes before the test, as they can temporarily increase cholesterol levels.
Follow instructions
Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as the time of day to take the test or any dietary restrictions.
Interpreting Test Results

IGF-1 test results are usually reported as a single number in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The normal range for IGF-1 levels varies with age and gender. In general, normal IGF-1 levels are

- Children: 75-215 ng/mL
- Adults: 115-307 ng/mL

An abnormally high IGF-1 level may indicate a growth hormone disorder or other medical condition. High IGF-1 levels may indicate excessive GH production, while low levels may indicate insufficient GH production. It is important to note, however, that other factors can affect IGF-1 levels, such as age, gender, and certain medications.

A healthcare provider will interpret your test results based on your individual health and medical history. If your test results are abnormal, your healthcare provider may recommend further testing or treatment. It is important to follow up with your healthcare provider to discuss your test results and any recommended next steps.

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