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Microalbuminuria test

Definition

The microalbuminuria test looks for small quantities of a protein called albumin in a urine sample.

See also: Urine albumin

Why the Test is Performed

This test is most often done to detect kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy) in a person who has had diabetes for several years.

Abnormal levels of the protein albumin in the urine signal the beginning of a condition called microalbuminuria, and are typical in disorders such as diabetic nephropathy. The test may show whether you are at risk for developing kidney disease with symptoms.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes receive a microalbuminuria urine test every year (after 5 years of having the disease in people with type 1 diabetes, and at the time of diagnosis in people with type 2 diabetes). Patients should also have their blood creatinine tested at least once a year.

How the Test is Performed

A small sample of urine needs to be collected.

Because the amount of water in urine can vary, it can affect the concentration of albumin. For this reason, the amount of creatinine is also measured. The result is reported as the ratio of albumin to creatinine.

If an abnormally high level of albumin is found, some health care providers will repeat the test on a 24-hour urine sample.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary for this test.

How the Test Will Feel

The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Risks

There are no risks with providing a urine sample.

Considerations

Healthy people may exceed normal levels after strenuous exercise or with dehydration.

Normal Results

Normally, most protein stays in the body, and little or no protein appears in the urine.

The ratio of albumin to creatinine is usually less than 2.5 mg/mmol for men and 3.5 mg/mmol for women.

  • 30-300 mg of albumin in two different 24-hour urine samples is considered microalbuminuria
  • More than 300 mg of albumin is considered albuminuria.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

If albumin is detected in the urine, this may indicate a problem with kidney function. Increased levels may occur with:

  • Certain immune disorders
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Some lipid problems

Further tests will be done to determine the severity of the problem.


Review Date: 5/2/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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