Common Tests to Diagnose Diabetic Nephropathy

Common Tests to Diagnose Diabetic Nephropathy

What is Nephropathy?

Nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease caused by damage to the small blood vessels or to the units in the kidneys that clean the blood. It affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the risk increases if diabetes has been uncontrolled for a prolonged period.  Some factors like high blood pressure and a family history of kidney disease are also contributing causes to this condition. 

Common test to diagnose Diabetic Nephropathy

  1. Microalbuminuria urine test
  2. BUN blood test
  3. Serum creatinine blood test
  4. Kidney biopsy 

Microalbuminuria Urine Test:
The kidneys filter blood and keep the good stuff the body needs and sends the waste out through urine. Proteins, such as albumin, is usually something the kidneys keep in. Albumin is the building block that helps your body heal. But if kidneys aren’t working well, this substance starts to leak into the urine.A micro albumin urine test checks how much of this is in your pee. Usually, there’s none or very little but when count is high it can be a sign of kidney disease.

Early testing can help start or change treatment to help limit further problems.It is suggested that people who have diabetes, get this test done annually. 

Results :

  • Less than 30 mg is considered normal
  • 30 to 300 mg may indicate early kidney disease
  • Higher than 300 mg indicates possibility of advanced kidney disease 

BUN Test:
BUN ( blood urea nitrogen) test is often part of a series of tests called comprehensive metabolic panel. The liver produces ammonia which contains nitrogen. This nitrogen combines with other elements like oxygen, carbon and hydrogen to form urea- chemical waste. The urea travels from the liver to the kidneys through the bloodstream.

If kidney is healthy this urea is filtered and removed from the blood through urine. During the BUN test some health care personnel takes a blood sample. This usually takes less than 10 minutes.

Results of the blood urea nitrogen test are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Normal levels are:

  • Men: 8 to 24 mg/dL
  • Women: 6 to 21 mg/dL
  • Children (1 to 17 years old): 7 to 20 mg/dL 

Serum Creatinine Blood test:
Creatinine is basically waste product that forms when creatine – found in muscle, breaks down.Each kidney has blood-filtering units called nephrons. The nephrons filter blood through a tiny cluster of blood vessels known as glomeruli. Filtered waste products include excess water, and other impurities which are flushed out of the blood.The toxins are stored and released through urine. Creatinine is one of the substances that is eliminated.


  • 9 – 1.3 mg/dL in men
  • -1.1 mg/dL in women is considered normal 

Kidney Biopsy:
Also called a Renal Biopsy, this test usually involves removal of a small piece of tissue to examine for damage.

There are two ways to perform this:
Renal Needle Biopsy: This is the most common type and the procedure involves a doctor inserting a needle through the skin to remove kidney tissue. An Ultrasound or CT scan can help direct the needle to the specific area.

Surgical Biopsy: In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut in the skin near the kidneys. This allows to look at the kidneys and determine the area from which the tissue samples needs to be taken.

If the kidney tissue shows a normal structure that is free of any deposits or defects, the results is considered normal.

Since Diabetic Nephropathy is a complication that can arise due to prolonged un-managed diabetes , it is best advised to keep diabetes in control. This is possible by maintaining ideal blood sugar levels. Keeping a glucometer around helps you self monitor blood sugar levels and take action whenever necessary.

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