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Renal (Kidney) Function Panel

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This comprehensive panel of blood tests is designed to evaluate the function of your kidneys, including the ability to remove wastes and excess fluids from your body. This panel is often recommended by physicians to diagnose and monitor the progression of kidney disease. However, kidney function is an important component of many other diseases, including diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, so your doctor may want to monitor your kidney function to make sure it is safe for you take certain medications.

The Renal Function Panel includes:


Changes in blood glucose are a good indicator of metabolic function and can help detect diseases like diabetes mellitus. Since diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease in adults, it is important to monitor for this disorder when evaluating kidney function.


Potassium is an electrolyte that is carefully regulated by the kidneys. When the kidneys aren't functioning normally, it can build up in the blood, leading to cardiac arrhythmias, or it can be the result of damaged kidneys. Monitoring potassium helps your physician diagnose kidney dysfunction. It also helps your physician decide if supplements or treatments are needed.


Phosphorus is a mineral waste product. A major job of the kidney is to filter out excess phosphorus. The Renal Function Panel can detect increased phosphorus, which may be a sign of kidneys with reduced blood supply or kidneys that are not functioning well.


Sodium is important in water balance, and part of the kidney's function is to maintain it at the right levels in the body. Low sodium could indicate a kidney that is having trouble functioning to conserve it in the body, while high sodium could suggest dehydration due to improper water balance or a disorder outside the kidney.


Albumin is a major protein in blood that helps keep water from leaking out of blood vessels and causing swelling in the feet, legs, and other parts of the body. It also serves as a transporter to bring important nutrients to all parts of the body. Damaged kidneys may leak albumin into the urine, causing levels in the blood to be low. Checking albumin levels allows your physician to detect protein loss via the kidney and other sources and determine if any swelling you experience is from kidney disease or from other disorders like cardiovascular disease.

BUN, Creatinine, and BUN/Creatinine Ratio

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine are waste products that are produced by the liver and the muscles during protein metabolism. Everyone produces some of these products daily. It is the job of the kidneys to filter out these waste products and excrete them in urine. Increased BUN and creatinine are indicators of decreased kidney function. However, other disorders that cause dehydration or bleeding stomach ulcers can also cause some of these values to increase. The BUN/creatinine ratio helps your physician decide if changes in BUN and creatinine are due to decreased kidney function or another cause.


Kidneys play an important role in calcium metabolism because they activate dietary vitamin D to its usable form. Vitamin D allows you to absorb calcium from your diet. Testing calcium levels helps determine if your kidneys are able to handle vitamin D effectively. Many people with kidney function have calcium levels that are too low, so this is an important tool for detecting and managing kidney disease.


Chloride is another electrolyte that can be lost from damaged kidneys. Chloride and sodium are tested together to give a comprehensive look at your body's ability to maintain water and electrolyte balance.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Total

Carbon dioxide dissolved in the blood plays an important role in regulating the pH of your blood. If your kidney function becomes compromised, waste products that should be filtered out can build up in your blood. These products tend to be very acidic and can rapidly alter your blood pH, leading to nausea and ulcers. Monitoring blood pH indirectly by measuring total carbon dioxide can help your physician detect and monitor many disorders, including kidney dysfunction. A low total carbon dioxide can indicate acidemia (acidic blood), a symptom of kidney disease.

Glom Filtration Rate:

A measure of how well the kidneys are filtering the blood.

There is no fasting requirement for this test. You may eat, drink, and take prescription medication as you would normally unless otherwise directed by your physician.

Related Laboratory Tests

Complete Blood Count (CBC):  the CBC counts the number and size of your red blood cells, as well as the number and type of white blood cells, the number of platelets and your hemoglobin levels. Many people with chronic illness or who are being treated for kidney dysfunction are anemic. The kidneys are also monitored during treatment of other disorders, which may be reflected in the white blood cell count.
Basic Health Screening: includes a CMP, CBC and measurements of proteins, electrolytes, and waste products can be very helpful in monitoring kidney function and detecting kidney disease.