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Renal Function Test

Also known as

Kidney Panel, Kidney Function Panel

This test is ordered by the doctor to help them diagnose and manage conditions related to kidney function. The test may be part of a general health screening or to help evaluate someone who is at risk of kidney disease. It may also be done to evaluate someone who has a known kidney disease in order to monitor their condition and treatment.
The test is ordered by the doctor when he or she feels that the patient has signs or symptoms which indicate a condition affecting kidney function. It is also ordered when a patient is undergoing treatment for kidney disease or when there are certain risk factors for kidney disease like diabetes or high blood pressure.
This is a blood test that requires a blood sample drawn from the arm via a syringe.
The doctor may instruct you to fast for at least 8 to 12 hours before the test. You may only take some water. In addition, you should follow any other instructions laid out by the doctor in order to ensure that test results are not impacted.
The renal panel consists of a variety of tests that are performed together to evaluate how the kidney is functioning. The test measures the levels of multiple substances ranging from minerals, proteins, sugar, electrolytes, and others in the blood to assess the health of your kidneys. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs in your body. They are part of the urinary tract and are located at the bottom of the ribcage to the left of the spine. Kidneys are responsible for carrying out essential functions such as
  • 1. Filtering blood – pushing out water and small molecules but retaining blood cells, a protein called albumin, and other larger molecules through the glomerulus, which contains tiny blood filtering units called nephrons.
  • 2. The glomerulus has tubes that then collect fluid and molecules which have passed through. Then they reassimilate what can be utilized by the body, add on other molecules through the process of secretion and adjust how much water will be eliminated from the body in the form of urine.
  • 3. In addition to water regulation and waste elimination, the kidney maintains chemical balance in the body through these processes. The kidney regulates sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It is critical to balance these substances in order to ensure the healthy functioning of the body. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, the concentrations of these substances go up in the blood, and waste products and fluid can accumulate to create a life-threatening situation.
  • 4. In addition, the kidney sustains a healthy body via other small functions such as producing erythropoietin, a hormone responsible for stimulating red blood cell production, producing renin which helps in maintaining normal blood pressure and converting Vitamin D into a form that is more active, thereby enhancing the absorption of calcium.
If the kidneys are not working properly, waste products can accumulate in the blood, with fluid levels rising to dangerous volumes, which can cause damage to the body. There are several conditions that result from damage to the kidneys, such as diabetes and hypertension.
The test conducted in the laboratory helps in evaluating kidney function and diagnosing kidney-related disorders by examining:
  • 1. Electrolytes: electrically charged chemicals crucial for normal body processes like muscle and nerve function. They also maintain the acid-base balance of the body and maintain a certain amount of fluid in the body. Electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, bicarbonate.
  • 2. Minerals: different minerals perform different functions. The test examines phosphorus, which is important for energy production, muscle and nerve function, as well as bone growth. It also maintains the body's pH level. On the other hand, calcium is responsible for the proper functioning of the nerves, muscles, the heart, the formation of bones, and blood clotting.
  • 3. Protein: the test evaluates albumin, which is a protein that makes up about 60% of the protein in the blood and performs roles such as keeping fluid from leaking out of blood vessels and transporting different substances like drugs, ions, vitamins, and hormones throughout the body.
  • 4. Waste products: it also looks at blood, urea, nitrogen, and creatinine, the last of which is a waste product made by the muscles.
  • 5. Energy source: glucose is the main supply of energy for the body. There must be a steady amount of glucose in the body for use, and a certain amount of glucose must be maintained in the body.
The test panel reports these three calculated values:
  1. Urea BUN/Creatinine Ratio – which compares the amount of urea to creatinine present in the blood
  2. Estimated glomerular filtration rate
  3. Anion gap – a value calculated using the results of the electrolyte panel.
The test is ordered when someone has high-risk factors for kidney dysfunction like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and a family history of kidney disease. The doctor may also order the panel when someone has signs of kidney disease like
  1. Swelling or puffiness, particularly around the eyes or in the face, wrists, stomach, thighs, or ankles
  2. Urine that is foamy, bloody, or coffee-colored
  3. A decrease in the amount of urine
  4. Issues urinating, such as a burning feeling or abnormal discharge during urination, or a change in the frequency of urination, especially at night
  5. Mid-back pain, below the ribs, near where the kidneys are located
The tests are not diagnostic; however, abnormal results indicate that there is an issue with kidneys which must be investigated further in order to find the cause. The tests are interpreted together in light of symptoms and medical history.
Related Tests:  Albumin, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Calcium, Chloride, Creatinine Urine, Creatinine Serum, Bicarbonate (Total CO2), Creatinine Clearance, Cystatin C, Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR), Glucose Tests, Potassium, Sodium, Beta-2 Microglobulin Kidney Disease, Phosphorus, Urine Albumin and Albumin to Creatinine Ratio, Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), Complete Blood Count, (CBC) Urinalysis, Urine Protein and Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio
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