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Creatinine Clearance

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Also known as: Creatinine Clearance, Urine; CRCL; CCT
Formal name: Creatinine Clearance

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

This test measures creatinine levels in both a sample of blood and a sample of urine from a 24-hour urine collection. The results are used to calculate the amount of creatinine that has been cleared from the blood and passed into the urine. This calculation allows for a general evaluation of the amount of blood that is being filtered by the kidneys in a 24-hour time period.

Creatinine is a waste product produced in the muscles from the breakdown of a compound called creatine. Creatine is part of the cycle that produces energy needed to contract muscles. The amount of creatinine produced in the body is dependent on muscle mass and is relatively constant for an individual.

Almost all creatinine is removed from the body by the kidneys, so levels in the blood are a good indication of how well the filtering units in the kidneys, called glomeruli, are functioning. The amount of creatinine removed from the blood depends on both the filtering ability of the glomeruli in the kidneys and the rate at which blood is carried to the kidneys.

The amount of blood filtered per minute is known as the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). If the glomeruli are damaged or diseased, or if blood circulation is slowed, then less creatinine will be removed from the blood and released into the urine and the GFR will be decreased.

There are several versions of the creatinine clearance calculation. All of them include the measurement of the amount of creatinine in a blood sample collected just before or after the urine collection, the amount of creatinine in 24-hour urine sample, and the 24-hour urine volume. Since the amount of creatinine produced depends on muscle mass, some calculations also use a correction factor that takes into account a person's body surface area (using their height and weight).

How is the sample collected for testing?

The test requires a 24-hour urine collection and a blood sample drawn either at the beginning or end of the urine collection. The blood sample is drawn by needle from a vein in the arm. The person being tested will also usually be asked to provide their current height and weight.

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.