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Albumin-Creatinine Ratio: About This Test

Kidneys, ureters, bladder

What is it?

An albumin-creatinine ratio test compares the amounts of albumin and creatinine in your urine.

Albumin (say "al-BYOO-mun") is normally found in the blood. When the kidneys are damaged, small amounts of albumin (microalbumin) leak into the urine.

Creatinine (say "kree-AT-uh-neen") is a waste product found in urine.

Why is this test done?

This test helps your doctor see how well your kidneys are working. It is done most often to check the kidneys in people with diabetes or chronic kidney failure. It may also be done to check people with high blood pressure, heart failure, and cirrhosis.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • Tell your doctor if you are having your period or have vaginal discharge.
  • Your doctor or the lab likely will give you the container you need to hold the urine. You will get instructions on when and how to collect the urine. This might be a one-time sample or a number of samples over a period of time.

How to do the test

    Steps to collect urine
    1. Wash your hands before you collect the urine.
    2. Prepare the container.

      If the container has a lid, remove the lid and set it down with the inner surface up.

    3. Clean the area around your penis or vagina.
    4. Start to urinate into the toilet or urinal.
    5. Collect the urine in the container.

      After the urine has flowed for several seconds, place the collection container in the stream. Collect about 60 mL (2 fl oz) of this "midstream" urine without stopping the flow. Don't touch the rim of the container to your genital area.

    6. Finish urinating.
    7. Replace the lid on the container.
    8. Wash your hands.

How to collect timed urine
You collect your urine for a period of time, such as over 4 or 24 hours. Your doctor will give you a large container that holds about 4 L (1 gal). You will use the container to collect your urine.

  • When you first get up, you empty your bladder. But don't save this urine. Write down the time you began.
  • For the set period of time, collect all your urine. Each time you urinate during this time period, collect your urine in a small, clean container. Then pour the urine into the large container. Don't touch the inside of either container with your fingers.
  • Don't get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or anything else in the urine sample.
  • Keep the collected urine in the refrigerator for the collection time.
  • Empty your bladder for the last time at or just before the end of the collection period.
    Add this urine to the large container. Then write down the time.

What happens after the test?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking the urine to the doctor's office or lab.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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