What are Renal Profile Tests and Why They are Performed
May 13, 2022
Kidneys are among the most important organs in the human body as they filter waste and toxins from the blood and remove it from the body. They also remove excess fluid present in the body, which helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance. If a person’s body has increased levels of toxins and waste products, it indicates that their kidneys are not functioning properly.
What is a Renal Profile Test?
A renal profile test includes a number of tests that measure several parameters to assess the overall health of the kidney and to diagnose any kind of kidney-related problems.
The parameters tested under a renal profile lab test include:
- Albumin: This is a protein mainly found in the blood, and under normal conditions, a very small amount of the protein can also be detected in the urine. When there are increased levels of albumin in a person’s urine, it may indicate some kind of kidney-related issue.
- BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen): Urea nitrogen is a byproduct of the breakdown of food proteins. Increased BUN levels are generally caused by poor kidney function.
- BUN-to-Creatinine Ratio: A BUN to creatinine ratio (BUN: creatinine) which does not fall within the normal range is generally caused by when the blood flow to the kidneys is reduced significantly.
- Calcium: The levels of calcium in the body helps determine whether the kidneys are functioning the way they should and excreting appropriate amounts of calcium. When calcium levels increase in the body, they can lead to kidney stones.
- Carbon Dioxide: In the human body, the levels of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, and carbonic acid are balanced by the kidneys and lungs. When these levels start increasing in the bloodstream, it is a warning sign of improper kidney function.
- Chloride: Chloride is an important electrolyte in the human body that regulates the amounts of bodily fluids and maintains the acid-base balance. Chloride levels start to increase in a person’s bloodstream in kidney diseases like tubular acidosis.
- Creatinine: Creatinine is a waste product produced by the body’s muscles. When the kidneys are functioning well, they excrete large amounts of creatinine. Increased levels of this waste product in a person’s body can be an alarming sign which may indicate that the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly. When creatinine accumulates in the body, it can lead to severe kidney diseases.
- Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate: The eGFR is calculated on the basis of several factors including age, gender, creatinine levels, etc. This rate shows how efficiently the kidneys are working to excrete waste products and toxins from the body. A lower eGFR indicates kidney disease, or in the worst case, kidney failure.
- Glucose: When a person’s kidneys cannot function the way they should, glucose present in the bloodstream does not get reabsorbed. It leads to high levels of glucose or a condition called hyperglycaemia.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a vital mineral that helps in energy production, muscle and nerve function, and bone growth. But excessive amounts of phosphorus in the body can also cause health issues. Kidneys keep removing the extra amounts of the mineral as they continuously filter the blood, but if they stop functioning properly, this mineral starts accumulating in the bloodstream.
- Potassium: Potassium is another electrolyte which helps maintain water balance in the body, and improve digestion and nerve impulses. Potassium levels not within the normal range are indicative of a kidney problem.
- Sodium: Sodium is an electrolyte required by the human body to control blood pressure and blood volume, and to maintain fluid balance. It also helps the muscles and nerves work properly. Increased sodium levels indicate kidney diseases as this is caused by the body’s inability to remove the extra amounts of sodium.
Why One Should Go for a Renal Profile Test?
Generally, doctors advise a renal profile test when a person develops symptoms that may indicate a kidney problem or if they have an elevated risk of developing kidney-related issues. These risk factors include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or a family history of kidney disease.
Some common symptoms which may indicate kidney disease include:
- Significant changes in the frequency, quantity, or appearance of urine
- Swelling in body parts, including the arms, hands, legs, face etc.
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing issues
- Constant lethargy
- Muscle cramps or persistent pain
The renal profile test can also be used to monitor a person’s kidney health if they have had issues in the past or are currently undergoing treatment for kidney injury or disease. The test helps check how effectively the treatment is working.
The main purpose of a Renal Profile Test is to diagnose any kind of kidney impairment or disease. However, it can also be used to monitor existing kidney problems or the body’s response to ongoing treatments. There are a number of factors that can affect the renal profile test results, so it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional with the test report. They will be able to properly interpret the results and prescribe any further testing or medication if required.