Renal Panel

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A renal panel is a collection of measurements that provide information about the health of the kidneys. This panel test is performed using a blood sample and can play a role in early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of kidney problems.

When should I get a renal panel test?

A renal panel test can be used in a range of circumstances, and the doctor may include specific measurements depending on your situation.

As a diagnostic test, a renal panel is most frequently used when you have symptoms that could be explained by a kidney problem. Examples of symptoms that can be tied to kidney impairment or disease include:

  • Urinary changes including changes to the frequency, quantity, or appearance of your urine

  • Unexplained swelling, especially in your arms, hands, legs, and/or face

  • Itching

  • Loss of concentration

  • Appetite changes

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle cramps or pain

Purpose of the Renal test:

The purpose of a renal panel test is to find or rule out potential kidney impairment or disease. Depending on the circumstances, it may be used for diagnosis, screening or monitoring.

  • Diagnosis is the identification of a health problem after signs or symptoms have started. A renal panel may be ordered if the doctor believes that symptoms could be related to an issue affecting the kidneys.

  • Screening is testing with the goal of early detection of a problem. Screening tests are done before any symptoms have occurred. For people who are at higher risk of developing kidney disease, a renal panel may be prescribed to try to reveal problems at an earlier stage.

  • Monitoring is how a patient’s situation can be tracked over time. Repeat testing with a renal panel can show if the condition of the kidneys is getting better or worse. This monitoring may be done after treatment for kidney disease. It can also be used to watch for changes to kidney function when taking medications that can cause kidney impairment.

What does the test measure?

A renal panel includes multiple measurements. However, not all renal panel tests are exactly the same. The components can depend on the laboratory or the measurements requested by the doctor prescribing the test.

The most common components tested in most renal panels include:

  • Glucose: Also known as blood sugar, glucose provides energy for the body. Excess glucose in the blood, though, can be a sign of metabolic problems like diabetes.

  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is an essential mineral for your bones, teeth, nervous system, and muscles. Phosphorus comes primarily from the foods and drinks that you consume.

  • Calcium: Calcium is a mineral that is vital for the bones, muscles, cardiovascular system, and nervous system. The main source of calcium is your diet, and the body stores calcium in the bones.

  • Sodium: Sodium is another electrolyte that comes from your diet, and the amount of sodium in the body is largely controlled by the kidneys.

  • Chloride: Chloride is an electrolyte that works in conjunction with other electrolytes to carry out various functions, including preserving a healthy balance of fluids.

  • Bicarbonate: Bicarbonate is another electrolyte. Levels of bicarbonate help assess the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your blood.

  • Albumin: Albumin is a protein that is produced in the liver and found in the blood. It carries important substances through the body and helps maintain the proper pressure in the blood vessels so that fluids do not leak out of the blood.

  • Creatinine: Creatinine is a waste byproduct that is consistently formed as a result of normal muscle activity. The kidneys remove creatinine from the blood so that it can be carried out of the body in urine.

  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): Urea nitrogen, sometimes just called urea, is a waste product from protein activity. Like creatinine, it is removed from the blood by the kidneys and cleared from the body in urine.

  • Anion gap: The anion gap is a comparison of different electrolytes. Specific electrolytes can be positively or negatively charged, and this test assesses the balance between the two types. This measurement helps determine if you have too much or too little acid in your blood.

  • Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR): The eGFR is an evaluation of kidney function. Glomeruli are tiny filters in the kidneys, and the eGFR is a calculation of how much blood they are filtering every minute. There are different ways to calculate eGFR, but most tests use a special formula based on your creatinine level.

  • Total protein: There are several kinds of proteins that can be found in the blood, and total protein is a count of all of them. These proteins include albumin and multiple types of globulins, which are made by the immune system.

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