Albumin Urine Test
An albumin test checks urine for a protein called albumin. Albumin is normally found in the blood and filtered by the kidneys. When the kidneys are working as they should, there may be a very small amount of albumin in the urine. But when the kidneys are damaged, abnormal amounts of albumin leak into the urine. This is called albuminuria. If the amount of albumin is very small, but still abnormal, it is called microalbuminuria.
Albuminuria is most often caused by kidney damage from diabetes. But many other conditions can lead to kidney damage. These include high blood pressure, heart failure, cirrhosis, and lupus.
If early kidney damage is not treated, larger amounts of albumin may leak into the urine. When the kidneys spill albumin, it can mean serious kidney damage is present. This can lead to chronic kidney disease.
An albumin urine test can be done on a sample of urine that is collected:
- At a random time. This is usually after the first time you urinate in the morning.
- Over a 24-hour period.
- Over a specific period of time, such as 4 hours or overnight.
Why It Is Done
This test is done to check for albumin in the urine. Finding it early may change treatment so a person will keep as much kidney function as possible.
How To Prepare
You do not need to do anything special to prepare for this test.
How It Is Done
For a random urine test, you will provide a clean-catch midstream urine sample. A morning urine sample gives the best information about albumin levels.
Clean-catch midstream one-time urine collection
Wash your hands to make sure they are clean before you collect the urine.
- If the collection cup has a lid, remove it carefully. Set it down with the inner surface up. Do not touch the inside of the cup with your fingers.
- Clean the area around your genitals.
- For men: Pull back the foreskin, if you have one. Clean the head of the penis thoroughly with medicated towelettes or swabs.
- For women: Spread open the folds of skin around the vagina with one hand. Then use your other hand to clean the area around the vagina and urethra thoroughly with medicated towelettes or swabs. Wipe the area from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
- Start urinating into the toilet or urinal. Women should keep holding apart the folds of skin around the vagina while they urinate.
- After the urine has flowed for several seconds, place the collection cup into the stream. Collect about 2 fl oz (60 mL) of this "midstream" urine without stopping the flow.
- Do not touch the rim of the cup to your genital area. And don't get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the urine sample.
- Finish urinating into the toilet or urinal.
- Carefully replace the lid on the cup. Return the cup to the lab. If you are collecting the urine at home and can't get it to the lab in an hour, refrigerate it.
A urine sample collected over time, such as over 4 or 24 hours, gives the most accurate results. So you may be asked to collect your urine over a specific time period.
Timed urine collection (24 hours)
- You start collecting your urine in the morning. When you first get up, empty your bladder but do not save this urine. Write down the time that you urinated. This marks the beginning of your 24-hour collection period.
- For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine. Your doctor or lab will usually provide you with a large container that holds about 1 gal (4 L). The container has a small amount of preservative in it. Urinate into a small, clean container, and then pour the urine into the large container. Do not touch the inside of either container with your fingers.
- Keep the large container in the refrigerator for the 24 hours.
- Empty your bladder for the final time at or just before the end of the 24-hour period. Add this urine to the large container, and record the time.
- Do not get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the urine sample.