Lupus and Kidney Disease (Lupus Nephritis)

A health care professional checking a patient’s blood pressure.

What tests do health care professionals use to diagnose lupus nephritis?

Lupus nephritis is diagnosed through urine and blood tests and a kidney biopsy.

Urine Test

Your health care professional uses a urine sample to look for blood and protein in your urine. You collect the urine sample in a container in a health care professional’s office or lab. For the test, a nurse or technician places a strip of chemically treated paper, called a dipstick, into the urine. Patches on the dipstick change color when blood or protein is present. A high level of protein or a high number of red blood cells in the urine means kidney damage. The urine will also be examined under a microscope to look for kidney cells.

Blood Test

Your health care professional uses a blood test to check your kidney function. The blood test measures creatinine, a waste product from the normal breakdown of muscles in your body. Your kidneys remove creatinine from your blood. Health care professionals use the amount of creatinine in your blood to estimate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). As kidney disease gets worse, the level of creatinine goes up.

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