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 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 is made in the liver and its concentration in the blood is sensitive to liver damage. The concentration of albumin in the blood drops when the liver is damaged or with a type of kidney disease called 'nephrotic syndrome 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 taken by a needle from a vein.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.
How is it used?
Since the concentration of albumin in the blood can be low in many different diseases and disorders, albumin testing is used in a variety of conditions to help diagnose disease, to monitor changes in health status with treatment or with disease progression, and as a screen that may serve as an indicator for other kinds of testing.
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 suggest liver disease. Liver enzyme tests are requested to help determine which type of liver disease.
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.
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?
The prealbumin test measures a protein that in part reflects your nutritional status and can be useful to measure in individuals receiving nutritional support. 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 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 measures very small levels of albumin in your urine and may indicate whether you are at risk for developing kidney disease.