Test Details & Preparation
Proteins circulate throughout your blood to help your body maintain fluid balance. Albumin is produced in the liver, and is one of the most abundant proteins in your blood’s fluid or plasma.
A proper balance of albumin is required to keep fluid from leaking out of blood vessels.
If your liver or kidneys are not working well, serum albumins won’t be at their normal levels.
Your liver takes proteins in your diet and turns them into new proteins to circulate to the various organs and tissues of your body. This is why the serum albumin test can tell your doctor how well your liver is working. An albumin test is often used as part of a test known as a liver panel, which tests your blood for albumin, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, and prealbumin.
Your doctor will likely order an albumin test if he or she suspects you may have a condition that affects your liver function. Symptoms associated with liver disease include jaundice or yellow skin, fatigue, weight loss, swelling around the eyes, stomach or legs.
The serum albumin test also can test the status of certain medical conditions, such as chronic pancreatitis, liver disease, or kidney disease. If you have one of these conditions, serum albumin results can indicate if your condition is improving or advancing.
To perform the serum albumin test, your doctor will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm. First, he or she will use an alcohol swab or antiseptic wipe to cleanse your skin. Then, a needle will be inserted into your vein and a blood sample will be taken in one or more tubes, depending upon how much blood is to be drawn.
You do not need to take any extra steps before the test, but the test may be affected by certain medications such as insulin, certain steroids, androgen or male hormones and growth hormone.
Because a serum albumin test is often part of a set of tests related to liver function, your doctor may look at all your test results to understand what may be going on in your body.
Low albumin levels can signal a number of health conditions, including liver disease, inflammation, shock, malnutrition, nephritic syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and burns.
Side effects associated with the serum albumin test include bleeding and bruising where the needle is inserted, fainting sensation accumulation of blood under the skin and infection at the puncture site.