Diagnosis and Testing for Chronic Kidney Disease
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
A simple kidney function test can help your doctor determine whether you have kidney disease. After measuring your creatinine levels with a simple blood test, your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) can be calculated using age, weight, body size, ethnicity and gender. Your eGFR indicates how well your kidneys are functioning. An eGFR of 120 or less can indicate kidney disease. Your doctor may also perform other tests before determining a kidney disease diagnosis.
GFR test results indicate the stages of CKD
5 Chronic Kidney Disease Stages
|CKD stage||Description||Possible signs & symptoms||eGFR|
|Stage 1||Kidney damage with normal kidney function||High blood pressure, swelling in legs, urinary tract infections or abnormal urine test||90 or higher|
|Stage 2||Mild loss of kidney function||89–60|
|Stage 3||3a: Mild to moderate loss of kidney function;
3b: Moderate to severe loss of kidney function
|Low blood count, malnutrition, bone pain, unusual pain, numbness or tingling, decreased mental sharpness or feeling unwell||3a: 59–45
|Stage 4||Severe loss of kidney function||Anemia, decreased appetite, bone disease or abnormal blood levels of phosphorus, calcium or vitamin D||29–15|
End stage renal
|Kidney failure and need for transplant or dialysis||Uremia, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, abnormal thyroid levels, swelling in hands/legs/eyes/lower back or lower back pain||Less than 15|
Additional tests for assessing CKD
|What it measures||How it’s performed||What results mean|
|Albuminuria-to-creatinine ratio (ACR)||Amount of albumin, a type of protein, present in urine||Spot urine sample test||30 mg/gm or less = normal
Higher than 30 mg/gm = a possible sign of kidney disease
|Blood pressure||Pressure created by the force of blood flow through your blood vessels||In the doctor’s office with an inflatable cuff, pressure gauge and stethoscope||119 or lower/79 or lower = normal
130 or higher/80 or higher = high
High blood pressure may indicate elevated risk of CKD and requires further diagnostic testing
|Serum creatinine||Levels of creatinine, a waste product from normal muscle use||Blood analysis||Serum creatinine results of greater than 1.2 for women or greater than 1.4 for men = early sign that kidneys are not working properly|
|Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)||Levels of urea nitrogen from the breakdown of protein in food eaten||Blood analysis||BUN levels of 7–19 = normal
BUN levels of 20 or greater may be an indication of decreasing kidney function (or dehydration)
|Your doctor may perform other tests, including a kidney biopsy, ultrasound imaging or CT scan.|
Who should get tested for CKD?
The importance of testing
Getting tested to check your kidney health is critical to your current and future well-being. Whether you and your doctor are seeking a diagnosis or monitoring how well your treatment plan is working, acting early is always best. For CKD, the sooner your doctor can confirm a diagnosis, the earlier you can get started on an effective treatment plan to help preserve kidney function and slow progression.