Spotting the Silent Kidney Killer

Rapid kidney function decline detected using simple urine test

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The sooner kidney disease is spotted in a patient, the better chance that patient has of avoiding death. Now, there appears to be a way to detecting kidney disease even in those without signs of the disease.

A simple and affordable urine test can identify people who are going through a rapid decline in kidney function without any symptoms of kidney disease. This test - which is routinely done in doctor's offices - could protect patients from kidney failure and an early death.

"Take an urine test to ensure your kidneys are working."

The only way to keep kidney failure from happening is to spot and treat kidney disease early. Many people do not show signs of kidney disease until it is too late. If doctors could continually screen the kidney function of all their patients, it is likely they would be able to catch this silent kidney disease early. However, the current ways of screening cost too much.

For this reason, William Clark, M.D., from the University of Western Ontario, and colleagues wanted to see if a cheaper and easier screening test - which measures protein in the urine - could be used to spot people who have the greatest risk of a rapid decline in kidney function.

They found that the dipstick urine test could tell whether or not people had rapid kidney function decline in almost 91 percent of the study's participants.

According to Dr. Clark, this study showed that a simple and inexpensive urine test lets personal doctors follow less patients with costlier monitoring tests.

For their study, Dr. Clark and his colleagues followed more than 2,500 people for an average of seven years. The researchers found that the urine test was a good predictor of kidney function decline. In fact, it could be possible that one case of rapid kidney decline could be spotted for every 2.6 patients.

After adding the urine test into the picture, the likelihood of spotting rapid kidney function decline increased from 13 percent to 44 percent among patients with risk factors such as heart disease, being over 60 years of age, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

These findings - which are published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology - could lead to earlier and better treatments, keeping both patients and their kidneys alive and running. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 3, 2011
Last Updated:
August 5, 2011