The Test Sample
What is being tested?
This test measures the amount of urea nitrogen in the blood. Urea is produced in the liver when protein is broken into its component parts (amino acids) and metabolized. This process produces ammonia, which is then converted into the less toxic waste product urea.
Nitrogen is a component of both ammonia and urea. Urea and urea nitrogen are referred to somewhat interchangeably because urea contains nitrogen and because urea/urea nitrogen is the "transport method" used by the body to rid itself of excess nitrogen. Urea is released by the liver into the bloodstream and is carried to the kidneys, where it is filtered out of the blood and excreted in the urine. Since this is an ongoing process, there is usually a small but stable amount of urea nitrogen in the blood.
Most diseases or conditions that affect the kidneys or liver have the potential to affect the amount of urea present in the blood. If increased amounts of urea are produced by the liver or decreased amounts are excreted by the kidneys, then urea concentrations will rise. If significant liver damage or disease inhibits the production of urea, then BUN concentrations may fall.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is drawn from a vein in the arm.
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.