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Myoglobin

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Also known as: Urine myoglobin; Serum myoglobin
Formal name: Myoglobin

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To determine whether muscle, particularly heart muscle, has been injured; to detect high levels in the urine that can cause kidney damage after extensive muscle damage

When to Get Tested?

Every 2-3 hours for the first several hours after experiencing chest pain that is suspected to be due to a heart attack; when there has been severe traumatic injury to skeletal muscle

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm or a random urine sample

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Myoglobin is a small, oxygen-binding protein found in heart and skeletal muscles. It traps oxygen within muscle cells, allowing the cells to produce the energy required for muscular contraction. When heart or skeletal muscle is injured, myoglobin is released into the blood. Increased concentrations can be measured within a few hours following injury.

Myoglobin is filtered from the blood by the kidneys and is excreted into the urine. Large quantities of myoglobin are toxic to the kidneys. If significant amounts of myoglobin are released into the bloodstream, which can happen after severe trauma or muscle inuries, the excess myoglobin may cause damage to the kidneys and eventually result in kidney failure. Measurement of myoglobin in urine helps to detect this condition. 

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in the arm or a random urine sample is collected.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

Common Questions

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Article Sources

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

Sources Used in Current Review

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2011 February 21). Myoglobin – serum. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003663.htm. Accessed September 2011.

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2011 February 21). Myoglobin – urine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003664.htm. Accessed September 2011.

Schreiber, D. and Miller, S. (Updated 2011 March 29). Use of Cardiac Markers in the Emergency Department. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/811905-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed September 2011.

(© 1995-2011). Unit Code 9035: Myoglobin, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/9035 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed September 2011.

(Updated 2011 May). Inflammatory Myopathies. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/InflammatoryMyopathies.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed September 2011.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 688-689.

(Jan 4, 2010) Davarajan P. Myoglobinuria. Medscape Review article. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/982711-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed October 2011.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

Wu, A. (2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, Fourth Edition. Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, Missouri.

Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. Burtis CA, Ashwood ER, Bruns DE, eds. St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders; 2006. Pp 815-817.

Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. McPherson R, Pincus M, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier: 2007. Pp 404-405.

Pagana K, Pagana T. Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests. 3rd Edition, St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier; 2006. pp 376-377.

Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].

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