Care of the Patient with Abnormal Kidney Test Results

Blood and urine tests that detect chronic and acute kidney disease are commonly performed by clinicians in both ambulatory and hospital settings. Thresholds for these tests have been established that signal the presence and severity of kidney injury or dysfunction. In the appropriate clinical context of a patient's history and physical examination, an abnormal test result should trigger specific actions for clinicians, including review of the patient's medication use, follow-up testing, prescription of lifestyle modifications, and specialist referral. Tests for kidney disease can also be used to determine the prognosis with regard to future risk for kidney failure as well as cardiovascular death.

Use this article to:

  • Review the differential diagnosis of abnormal kidney test results.
  • Consider the questions below:
    • What history and physical examination findings help determine the cause of abnormal kidney test results?
    • When would you order imaging studies in a patient with abnormal kidney test results?
  • If possible, ask a nephrologist to review indications for subspecialty referral for a patient with abnormal kidney test results.

In the Clinic is a feature of Annals of Internal Medicine which includes practical reviews about the management of common clinical conditions.

Back to the May 2024 issue of ACP IMpact