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Ann Clin Biochem. 2004 Nov;41(Pt 6):474-8.

External quality assessment of urinary steroid profile analysis.

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Clinical Biochemistry, University College London Hospitals, 60 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 4EU, UK.



Clinical samples were distributed on 10 occasions to six UK laboratories that perform urinary steroid profile analysis. Urine samples were from normal adult men and women, normal children and neonates. Samples from patients with Cushing's syndrome, virilization, adrenarche, obesity and congenital adrenal hyperplasia (21 and 17-hydroxylase defects) were also used for evaluation.


Samples were analysed by capillary column gas chromatography (all laboratories) after hydrolysis of conjugates and derivative formation (five laboratories) or by variation of 17-oxogenic steroid methodology (one laboratory).


For each distribution of samples, the performance of the participants was compared for quantitative analysis, and user comments were summarized. Quantitative results showed variation without necessarily biasing the result. Comments varied considerably in length. The interpretations did not always lead to a clear diagnosis or advise about appropriate further tests.


This pilot urine steroid profiling scheme has clearly identified the requirement for external quality assessment. It is now hoped to offer this scheme worldwide in collaboration with the European Research Network for the Evaluation and Improvement of Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment of Inherited Disorders of Metabolism (ERNDIM).

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