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Kidney function tests

Your kidneys are important since they filter waste from your body and regulate the salts in your blood. There are many reasons why your kidneys may not work effectively, and kidney function tests can help your doctor check up on your kidney function now and to monitor it over time.

Several blood and urine tests can provide information about your kidney function.

Kidney function tests are also known as renal function or urea and electrolytes (U&E, EUC or UEC) tests.

What is being tested?

The main tests are:

  • creatinine and urea in your blood
  • albumin and creatinine in urine – this is usually described as UACR, or urinary albumin: creatinine ratio
  • the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

Other tests include:

  • urine tests to measure the by-products of metabolism
  • electrolytes in blood – usually sodium, potassium, chloride or bicarbonate
  • a full blood count.

Why would I need this test?

Kidney tests are very important for people who have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. Your doctor might request these tests if:

  • they suspect your kidneys are not working properly
  • you have kidney disease and your treatment is being monitored
  • your doctor is concerned about the levels of potassium or other minerals in your blood
  • you are taking medication that might affect your kidneys.

How to prepare for this test

No preparation is needed for this test.

Understanding your results

Abnormalities in urea or creatinine levels can indicate both short and long-term problems with the kidneys.

Problems with electrolytes can be caused by a range of conditions, including kidney disease and problems with medication.

It is important to discuss the results with your doctor to see what they mean in your particular situation.

More information

About kidney function tests

Lab Tests Online has more information about creatinine, urea and electrolyte testing.

About blood testing

Visit healthdirect's ‘Guide to blood testing’ to learn more about blood tests in general, with information such as:

  • what to consider before having a test
  • what happens during a blood test
  • results accuracy
  • blood tests and cost.

Last reviewed: October 2016

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