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Routine Kidney Function Blood Test

RFT


The kidneys regulate the amount of water and salts that we have in our bodies. They do this by filtering the blood through millions of structures called nephrons. The kidneys also pass out certain waste products from the body. Urine is made up of the excess water, salts and waste products passed out by the kidneys down to the bladder.

Routine blood test of kidney function

The usual blood test which checks that the kidneys are working properly measures the level of urea, creatinine, and certain dissolved salts.

Urea is a waste product formed from the breakdown of proteins. A high blood level of urea ('uraemia') indicates that the kidneys may not be working properly, or that you are dehydrated.

Creatinine is a waste product made by the muscles. A high blood level of creatinine indicates that the kidneys may not be working properly. Creatinine is usually a more accurate marker of kidney function than urea.

Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) provides a guide to kidney function. Although the level of creatinine in the blood is a useful guide to kidney function, the eGFR is a more accurate measure. Blood creatinine can be used to estimate the eGFR using age, sex, and race. This is often calculated by computer and reported with the creatinine blood test. The normal value for eGFR is 90-120 ml/min. An eGFR below 60 ml/min suggests that some kidney damage has occurred.

Dissolved salts that are routinely measured are sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate. They are sometimes referred to as 'electrolytes'.

Routine kidney function is one of the most commonly performed blood tests. It may be done:

  • As part of a general health assessment.
  • If you have suspected dehydration.
  • If you have suspected kidney failure.
  • Before and after starting treatment with certain medicines

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