Urine urea nitrogen is a test that measures the amount of urea in the urine. Urea nitrogen is a waste product resulting from the breakdown of protein in the body.
How the Test is Performed
A 24-hour urine sample is often needed. You will need to collect your urine over 24 hours. Your health care provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly to ensure accurate results.
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is needed.
How the Test will Feel
The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is mainly used to check a person's protein balance and the amount of food protein needed by severely ill people. It is also used to determine how much protein a person takes in.
Urea is excreted by the kidneys. The test measures the amount of urea the kidneys excrete. The result can show how well the kidneys are working.
Normal values range from 12 to 20 grams per 24 hours.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Low levels usually indicate:
- Kidney problems
- Malnutrition (inadequate protein in diet)
High levels usually indicate:
- Increased protein breakdown in the body
- Too much protein intake
There are no risks with this test.
Urine urea nitrogen
Inker LA, Fan L, Levey AS. Assessment of renal function. In: Jonson RJ, Feehally J, Floege J. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 3.
Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 114.
McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.
Update Date 8/29/2015
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.