Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is most frequently diagnosed through blood and urine tests.
If you are in a high-risk group for developing CKD, it is important to be regularly screened for the condition. People who are not in a high-risk group are not normally screened for CKD.
Annual screening is recommended for the following groups:
Your GP can advise you about whether or not you should be screened for CKD.
Most often, the diagnosis of kidney disease is made because a routine blood or urine test indicates the kidneys may not be functioning normally. If this happens, the test is usually repeated to confirm the diagnosis.
An effective way of assessing how well your kidneys are working is to calculate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is a measurement of how many millilitres (ml) of waste fluid your kidneys can filter from the blood in a minute (measured in ml/min). A healthy pair of kidneys should be able to filter more than 90ml/min.
It is difficult to measure the GFR directly, so it is estimated using a formula. The result is called the estimated GFR or eGFR. Calculating your eGFR involves taking a blood sample and measuring the levels of a waste product called creatinine and taking into account your age, gender and ethnic group. The result is similar to the percentage of normal kidney function. For example, an eGFR of 50ml/min equates to 50% kidney function.
The following tests are used to detect proteinuria (protein in the urine)
A six-stage system, based on eGFR levels, is used to describe the progression of CKD. The higher the stage, the more severe the CKD. The six stages are described below.
If you have stage one or two CKD, it is recommended you have annual eGFR tests so the progression of the condition can be carefully monitored.
However, over time, GFR can fluctuate, so one abnormal test result does not automatically mean you have CKD. A diagnosis of CKD is usually only confirmed if repeated eGFR tests show your eGFR is consistently lower than normal over three months.
A number of other tests are also used to assess the levels of damage to your kidneys. These are outlined below:
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Source: NHS UK