The Test Sample
What is being tested?
This test measures the amount of creatinine in the blood and/or urine. Creatinine is a waste product produced by muscles from the breakdown of a compound called creatine. Creatine is part of the cycle that produces energy needed to contract muscles. Both creatine and creatinine are produced by the body at a relatively constant rate. Almost all creatinine is excreted by the kidneys, so blood levels are usually a good indicator of how well the kidneys are working. The quantity produced depends on the size of the person and their muscle mass. For this reason, creatinine concentrations will be slightly higher in men than in women and children.
Results from a blood creatinine test and a 24-hour urine creatinine test may be used to calculate creatinine clearance.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is drawn from a vein in the arm. A 24-hour urine sample may also be collected. The doctor or laboratory will provide a large container and instructions for proper sample collection. Typically, the first morning urine sample is not collected, but the time is recorded and used as the start time for the 24-hour collection. All urine produced during the next 24 hours is saved.
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?
You may be instructed to fast overnight or refrain from eating cooked meat; some studies have shown that eating cooked meat prior to testing can temporarily increase the level of creatinine. If a 24-hour urine sample is being collected, it is important to save all of the urine produced during that time period.