Q: Even though you suggested a random urine ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio), the internal medicine group ordered a 24-hour urine test for protein. As you can see from the results (see Table 2), the PCR (protein-to-creatinine ratio) is high. What does this mean? Does my patient have more severe kidney disease than I thought for her age?
Advanced age is a risk factor for CKD, and the patient has also had weight loss that can affect her serum creatinine. Because of her femur fracture, she has likely been in pain and probably has been taking nephrotoxic analgesics, such as NSAIDs or a ketorolac injection, commonly given postoperatively.
The patient’s weight does not appear to be stable, and she may have a degree of malnutrition. Both malnutrition and reduced muscle mass are known to decrease serum creatinine, which can mask worsening kidney disease. Thus she may have a lower true GFR than predicted by CG, which tends to overestimate renal function in the case of lower levels of creatinine production.6
Looking at all of these factors, it is likely that she has some degree of renal disease; however, it is important to determine if this is an acute change or a chronic issue. Looking closely at the higher-than-normal urinary protein result requires some out-of-the-box thinking.
Proteinuria has four types; each indicates a particular disorder.5 Table 3 provides examples of causative factors for each type.
Based on the data provided (Table 2), you have a high urinary protein result and are unsure if it is albumin. It is important to determine if this is albumin—and therefore pathognomonic for progressive kidney disease—or if the protein is of a nonalbumin type that will require further evaluation. What started as just an elderly female with a femur fracture and decreased GFR can turn into a diagnosis of multiple myeloma (which is more common in this age-group), kidney damage from postoperative medications, or another form of kidney disease. Only by looking at urinary protein type can one “tease out” what this might be.
In conclusion, there are many different ways to determine renal function, either by creatinine clearance or by using an estimation formula. Each one, used correctly, can offer advantages in certain populations. It is extremely important to determine whether an individual has diminished kidney function in order to be able to delay the progression of CKD.
Catherine B. York, MSN, APRN-BC Springfield Nephrology Associates, Springfield, MO
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