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Microalbumin Urine Test

Last updated July 25, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Microalbumin Urine Test is a test that detects the presence of trace amounts of albumin in urine. It is a sensitive test that assesses kidney function and catches any early signs of nephropathy.

What are other names for this test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Urine Albumin Test

What is Microalbumin Urine Test? (Background Information)

  • Microalbumin refers to concentrations of albumin in urine that are abnormal and are undetectable by traditional methods. Albumin is a protein made by the liver in large quantities
  • Albumin circulates in blood, where it acts as a transport vehicle for various substances, including water, fatty acids, and drugs. It is the most abundant protein found in blood
  • The kidneys, along with the liver and spleen, filter blood and excrete the waste as urine. The site of filtration is a microscopic sieve-like structure, called the glomerulus. There are roughly 1 million glomeruli in each kidney
  • Normally, only ions and small molecules can pass through the glomerulus and make it to the filtrate and subsequently into urine. Generally, no proteins should be present in urine
  • When the glomeruli of the kidneys are damaged, they let through proteins and other substances. Thus, the presence of proteins, like albumin, in urine suggests kidney disease (or nephropathy), which often accompanies diabetes
  • Proteinuria, the term for proteins appearing in the urine, also occur with strenuous exercising. The mechanisms for this are unclear, but it may involve hormonal and central nervous system stimulation, leading to increased glomerular permeability
  • Microalbuminuria, or the presence of trace amounts of albumin in urine, precedes significant nephropathy. It can be used as warning sign for nephropathy, 5-7 years before a serious damage occurs
  • The Microalbumin Urine Test is a test that detects the presence of trace amounts of albumin in urine. It is a sensitive test that assesses kidney function and catches any early signs of nephropathy

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Microalbumin Urine Test?

Following are the clinical indicators for performing a Microalbumin Urine Test:

  • Evaluating kidney disease
  • Screening diabetics for early signs of nephropathy

How is the Specimen Collected for Microalbumin Urine Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Microalbumin Urine Test:

Sample required: Urine

Process: Collection of urine into a sterile container, either over a period of time, or once in the morning; as specified by your healthcare provider.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Microalbumin Urine Test Result?

Detectable urine albumin levels may indicate:

  • Early kidney disease (nephropathy)
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Proteinuria, during late pregnancy (preeclampsia)
  • Heart muscle disorder

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 8, 2014
Last updated: July 25, 2019