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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

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.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is most often done to screen for early 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.

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).

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 used to classify diabetic nephropathy. A ratio less than 30 micrograms per milligram is normal.

  • A ratio of 30-299 in two different 24-hour urine samples is considered microalbuminuria
  • A ratio of more than 300 mg is considered macroalbuminuria.

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, your kidneys may be damaged and may not be working properly. Further tests must be done to confirm a problem and determine the severity of any kidney damage.

Increased levels of albumin may occur with:

  • Certain immune disorders
  • Diabetes (kidney problems due to diabetes are called diabetic nephropathy)
  • High blood pressure
  • Some lipid problems

Risks

There are no risks with providing a urine sample.

Considerations

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

References

American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2010. Diabetes Care. 2010;33:S11-S61.

Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 1 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 247.

Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 248.


Review Date: 5/23/2010
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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