Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 9, 2023.
Uses for metyrapone
Metyrapone is used in the diagnosis of certain problems of the adrenal glands. These glands are located near the kidneys. The adrenal glands produce a steroid chemical called cortisol (hydrocortisone) that helps the body respond to stress or illness. From the results of a metyrapone test, your doctor will be able to tell if your adrenal glands produce the correct amount of cortisol under stress or during illnesses.
How test is done: Metyrapone is taken by mouth in one or more doses the day before the testing is done. The next day, blood and/or urine samples are taken. A tube called a catheter may be placed in your bladder to help take the urine sample. The amount of hormones in your blood or urine is measured. Then the results of the test are studied.
Metyrapone may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Metyrapone is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using metyrapone
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
This medicine has been tested in children and has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.
Although there is no specific information about the use of metyrapone in the elderly, it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Breast cancer or
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus or
- Heart disease or
- Liver disease or
- Low blood sugar or
- Thyroid disease—These conditions may cause false results in metyrapone testing and result in a wrong diagnosis
- Excessive body hair in females—Long-term use may increase growth of body hair
- Porphyria—Metyrapone may worsen active cases of porphyria
- Underactive adrenal or pituitary gland—Metyrapone may severely reduce the amount of certain hormones produced by the adrenal glands; these hormones are needed to respond to stress or illness
Proper use of metyrapone
Metyrapone may cause nausea and vomiting, especially if taken in larger doses. Taking each dose with food or milk or immediately after eating may lessen this effect.
Before you have any medical tests, tell the doctor in charge that you are taking this medicine. The results of some tests may be affected by this medicine.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For tablet dosage form:
- For testing the adrenal glands:
- Adults—750 milligrams (mg) (3 tablets) every four hours for six doses. Or, your doctor may want you to take 2000 to 3000 mg (8 to 12 tablets) as a single dose at eleven p.m.
- Children—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The usual dose is 15 mg per kilogram (kg) (6.8 mg per pound) of body weight every four hours for six doses.
- For testing the adrenal glands:
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
If you are taking metyrapone for a test procedure and you miss a dose, contact your physician. Missing doses or taking them on the wrong schedule may cause false test results.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using metyrapone
This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, lightheaded, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Even if taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on arising. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert .
Side Effects of metyrapone
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Rare (with long-term use)
- Irregular heartbeat
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Skin rash
Rare (usually with long-term use)
- Enlargement of clitoris
- muscle cramps or pain
- sore throat or fever
- swelling of feet or lower legs
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weight gain (rapid)
Symptoms of overdose
- Abdominal or stomach pain (severe)
- decrease in consciousness
- diarrhea (severe)
- nausea (severe)
- unusual thirst
- vomiting (severe)
- weakness (sudden)
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Confusion or mental slowing
- excessive hair growth
- greater-than-normal loss of scalp hair
- increased sweating
- loss of appetite
- upper abdominal or stomach pain
- worsening of acne
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about metyrapone
- Check interactions
- Compare alternatives
- Side effects
- Drug class: adrenal corticosteroid inhibitors
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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.