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The kidneys are responsible for a variety of roles in a healthy body. The most important function of a kidney is to remove waste from the bloodstream. A renal function test is a blood or urine test used to evaluate the functioning of the kidneys.
The purpose of a renal function test is to see how well the kidneys are working and to diagnose kidney disease.
- If kidney failure or kidney deficiency is present, a renal function test is frequently ordered.
- Hydration is also evaluated with a renal function test.
Needing a Renal Function Test
A physician will order this test if he or she believes your kidneys are not working properly, or to monitor a patient who has diabetes or high blood pressure. If any of the following symptoms are present, a doctor will recommend a renal function test:
- Retention of fluids in the hands or feet
- Painful urination
- Trouble urinating
- Frequent urination
- Blood present in urine
- High blood pressure
Types of Renal Function Tests
Doctors may order different renal function tests. One test is a urinalysis which will check for blood and protein in the urine stream. The doctor may request you to collect urine for a full 24 hours to determine how fast creatinine is removed from your body.
Another test is called a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test. This test measures how fast the kidneys can filter the blood. Urea is a waste product of protein, and the kidneys remove it from the blood. Most kidney diseases cause the urea nitrogen level to rise. Gastrointestinal bleeding and steroids can also cause BUN levels to be high.
The next possible test is called serum creatinine test, which also looks for creatinine build up in the blood. A high degree of creatinine may indicate a kidney issue. This test is a more sensitive test than the BUN test for kidney function.
The final test that may be ordered is called a glomerular filtration rate test. This test determines how effectively waste is being removed from the body.
Results of Renal Function Tests
Most renal function tests require urine to be collected over a 24-hour period in order to get the best results. A blood test is needed for the BUN and serum creatinine tests.
Some of these tests can be done in the doctor’s office, but a laboratory is often required. After the blood and urine have been analyzed, the doctor will evaluate the results for irregularities and indication of kidney disease. These tests are typically only the first step in identifying kidney disorders. Depending upon the results, the doctor may order further testing. This testing may include a renal ultrasound or scan to see the functioning of the kidneys.