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Nephrotic Syndrome

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Exams and Tests

In addition to a medical history and physical exam, other tests to diagnose nephrotic syndrome include:

  • A 24-hour urine collection, which measures the total amount of protein in the urine collected over 24 hours. You will be diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome if you have more than 3 grams of protein in your urine.
  • Blood test for albumin. Lower levels of albumin in the blood can cause fluid to collect in the ankles, lungs, or abdomen.
  • Creatinine and creatinine clearance. Results of these tests give information on how well your kidneys are working.
  • Blood profile tests to measure the amount of protein, cholesterol, and sugar (glucose) in the blood.
  • Kidney ultrasound to look at the kidneys. This exam can rule out other causes of your symptoms.

You may need other tests before treatment for nephrotic syndrome begins. These include:

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  • A test for varicella (chickenpox) antibodies.
  • A bone density scan.

In adults, testing usually includes:

  • Serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP).
  • Antinuclear antibodies (ANA).
  • Antibody tests for systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • C3 and C4 complement, proteins normally found in the blood.
  • Tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Unless nephrotic syndrome is clearly caused by diabetes, a kidney biopsy is usually done to find the cause. Children do not usually have a biopsy.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 17, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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