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creatinine clearance

Alternative Names 
glomerular filtration rate, GFR

This is a test of kidney function. It determines the amount of fluid filtered each minute by the kidneys.

Creatinine is produced in the muscles and filtered through the kidneys. Almost all the creatinine released from the muscles makes its way into the urine. Comparing the amount of creatinine in the blood with the amount of creatinine in the urine gives an indication of kidney function.

Who is a candidate for the test? 
Anyone suspected of having abnormal kidney functioning may require a creatinine clearance test.

How is the test performed? 
This test is performed on a 24-hour urine sample. The person should follow the specific instructions of the doctor on how to collect the urine sample. In general, this schedule is followed:
  • Day 1: The person urinates upon arising as usual. The person does not collect that sample. Then, the individual collects all urine produced for the next 24 hours in a special container.
  • Day 2: First thing in the morning, the person urinates into the container again. Then the individual covers it and refrigerates it. The sample is brought to the doctor.
The person will also be required to give a blood sample so the blood level of creatinine can be measured and compared with that found in the 24-hour collection of urine.

What is involved in preparation for the test? 
The person should request specific instructions from his or her doctor.

What do the test results mean? 
Normal values for creatinine clearance (glomerular filtration rates) are as follows:
  • males, 97 - 137 ml/min (millilitres per minute), or 1.6 - 2.3 ml/sec (millilitres per second)
  • females, 88 - 128 ml/min, or 1.5 - 2.1 ml/sec
Abnormally low glomerular filtration rates may indicate:
  • acute tubular necrosis, or kidney failure caused by damage to the kidney's tubules
  • heart failure
  • dehydration, or lack of fluids
  • glomerulonephritis, or inflammation of the parts of the kidney that filter the blood
  • inadequate blood flow to the kidneys
  • shock, a life-threatening condition in which blood pressure falls too low to support life
  • obstructive uropathy, a kidney disease caused by blockage of the kidney's drainage tubes
  • acute nephritic syndrome, the sudden inability of kidneys to perform their filtering role
  • acute kidney failure
  • kidney disease
  • Wilms' tumour, a cancer of the kidneys generally seen in infants and young children
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 17/11/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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