If your doctor thinks you have symptoms of liver or kidney disease or prior to a planned surgery
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
Albumin is made in the liver and it is the most abundant protein in the blood plasma. It keeps fluid from leaking out of blood vessels; nourishes tissues; and carries hormones, vitamins, drugs, and ions like calcium throughout the body. Albumin concentration in the blood is sensitive to liver damage. The concentration of albumin in the blood drops when the liver is severely damaged or with a type of kidney disease called 'nephrotic syndrome, or if a person experiences severe inflammation in the body, or with shock. The albumin concentration in the blood increases when a person is dehydrated.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is usually taken by a needle from a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.
How is it used?
When is it requested?
A doctor requests a blood albumin test (usually along with several other tests) if a person seems to have symptoms of liver or kidney disease.
Doctors may also request a blood albumin test when someone has an infection or inflammation as its concentration may provide a marker of the severity of the condition.
What does the test result mean?
Low albumin concentrations in the blood can reflect diseases in which the kidneys cannot prevent albumin from leaking from the blood into the urine and being lost. In this case, the amount of albumin (or protein) in the urine also may be measured along with creatinine. This test is called a microalbumin test or urine albumin creatinine ratio test.
Low albumin concentrations in the blood can also be seen in severe inflammation or shock.
Low albumin concentrations in the blood may also suggest conditions in which your body does not properly absorb and digest protein such as Crohn’s disease or in which large volumes of protein are lost from the intestine.
High albumin concentrations in the blood usually reflect dehydration.
Is there anything else I should know?
Certain drugs increase albumin in your blood, including anabolic steroids, androgens, growth hormones, and insulin.
If you are receiving large amounts of intravenous fluids, the results of this test may be inaccurate.
Albumin concentrations can also be measured in the urine. Urine albumin can be mildly increased in inflammation and are significantly increased in people with nephrotic syndrome.
Is anyone at high risk for abnormal albumin concentrations?
What is the difference between albumin, prealbumin, and microalbumin tests?
Albumin testing is more often used to test for liver or kidney disease or to provide information on the severity of an inflammatory disorder. The prealbumin test measures a related protein that in part reflects your nutritional status and it can be useful to measure serum concentrations in individuals receiving nutritional support. The blood prealbumin level falls in response to malnutrition, making it of some value in detecting changes in nutritional status but like albumin its blood level also falls in individuals who have liver disease or inflammatory disorders. The microalbumin test seeks to measure very small levels of albumin in your urine as ani indication of your risk for developing kidney disease.