Health Encyclopedia

Microalbumin (Urine)

Does this test have other names?

Urine microalbumin

What is this test?

This test looks for minuscule amounts of albumin in your urine. The test can find out whether diabetes has damaged your kidneys.

Albumin is a protein needed for tissue growth and healing. It can leak into your urine when your kidneys aren't working as they should.

Because such small amounts of albumin may not show up during routine urine testing, healthcare providers use this test to look for changes in albumin levels that mean complications from diabetes or other conditions. If kidney disease is found early, it may be treated successfully.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. Early detection of kidney damage is important to prevent long-term complications.

People with diabetes who are between 12 and 70 years old should have a urine test for microalbumin at least once a year. Anyone with type 1 diabetes should begin testing after 5 years of having the disease. Those with type 2 diabetes should be tested when they are diagnosed and then each year after that.

If you have high blood pressure, talk with your healthcare provider about how often you should be tested.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if you have diabetes and your healthcare provider wants to see whether you are controlling your blood sugar well enough to prevent damage to your kidneys. You may need to have this test once a year.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order a urine test for creatinine. Creatinine is a chemical waste product created from the body's natural process of converting food into energy. The amount of albumin is measured against the amount of creatinine to find out the albumin-to-creatinine ratio, or ACR. If your kidneys are affected, your creatinine levels will rise.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare provider.

Results for microalbumin are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Results for ACR are given in milligrams per gram (mg/g). Normal results are:

  • MA: 0.2 to 1.9 mg/dL

  • MA/creatinine ratio: 0 to 30 mg/g

If your results show a small amount of albumin, you may have to repeat the test using a 24-hour urine sample to confirm the results. A moderate amount of albumin could mean early stages of kidney disease, and it's likely your healthcare provider will need to adjust your treatment.

Finding microalbumin in your urine also may mean you are at a higher risk for heart disease.

Higher levels of microalbumin may also be caused by blood in your urine, a urinary tract infection, and an acid-base imbalance in your blood.

How is this test done?

This test requires a urine sample. Your healthcare provider will give you a sterile container to collect a urine sample. You may have to give a urine sample at a specific time.

This test may also use a 24-hour urine sample. For this type of sample, you must collect all the urine you produce for 24 hours. Empty your bladder completely first thing in the morning without collecting it and note the time. Then collect your urine every time you go to the bathroom for the next 24 hours.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

Vigorous exercise can cause your results to seem higher than they really are. Certain medicines, such as oxytetracycline, can also affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.  

Medical Reviewers:

  • Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
  • Snyder, Mandy, APRN