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Bone-Joint Panel >> Albumin
Albumin Test

Serum albumin is the most plentiful protein in blood plasma and is made by liver. Since serum albumin is so common in the blood and so easy to purify, it was one of the first proteins to be studied by scientists. Albumin is a protein made by the liver. A serum albumin test measures the amount of this protein in the clear liquid portion of the blood (serum).

Albumin helps move many small molecules through the blood, including bilirubin, calcium, progesterone, and medications. It plays an important role in keeping the fluid from the blood from leaking out into the tissues.

Because albumin is made by the liver, decreased serum albumin may be a sign of liver disease. It can also result from kidney disease, which allows albumin to escape into the urine. Decreased albumin may also be explained by malnutrition or a low protein diet.

When the serum albumin test is done?

  • As a routine part of investigation done in a "bone and joint" panel
  • To determine if a patient has liver disease or kidney disease, or if the body is not absorbing enough protein

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

  • Diabetic nephropathy/sclerosis
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Hepatorenal syndrome
  • Membranous nephropathy
  • Tropical sprue
  • Wilson's disease

What will the results of serum albumin test tell me?

Normal range: 3.4 - 5.4 grams per deciliter (g/dL)

Higher range:
Higher than normal levels of serum albumin in the blood are found in:

  • Dehydration
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Poor protein utilization
  • Glucocorticoid excess (can result from taking medications with cortisone effect, the adrenal gland overproducing cortisol, or a tumor that produces extra cortisol like compounds)
  • Congenital (in born / present at birth)

Lower range:
Lower than normal levels of serum albumin in the blood are found in:

  • Ascites
  • Burns (extensive)
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Liver disease (for example, hepatitis, cirrhosis, or hepatocellular necrosis)
  • Malabsorption syndromes (for example, Crohn's disease, sprue, or Whipple's disease)
  • Malnutrition
  • Nephrotic syndrome

Also, albumin will be decreased during pregnancy.

How serum albumin blood test is done?
A blood sample is needed from one of your veins in a usual way. The blood sample is placed in a machine called a centrifuge, which spins and separates the cells from the liquid part of the blood (the serum).

Are there any precautions for the test?
There are certain drugs that may interfere with your serum albumin test results. Your health care provider will instruct you, if necessary, to discontinue drugs that may interfere with the test.

Drugs that can increase albumin measurements include anabolic steroids, androgens, growth hormone, and insulin. Also, if you are receiving large amounts of intravenous fluids, the results of this test may be inaccurate. Therefore, let your health care provider know of the same before you perform the test.

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