Albumin - plasma or serum

Last updated: Friday, 04, June, 2010

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Item Process
Specimen

5 mL blood in lithium heparin or plain tube.

Avoid venous stasis. See Table 1.

Method

Spectrophotometry, immunoassay.

Reference Interval

32-45 g/L. Varies with age.

Application

Assessment of hydration, nutritional status, protein-losing disorders and liver disease.

Interpretation

Decreased levels may be associated with overhydration, chronic liver disease, protein losing disorders (eg, nephrotic syndrome, protein-losing enteropathy), malnutrition, and shifts into the extravascular space (eg, burns).

Decreased levels may also be seen as part of an acute phase response.

Increased levels may be seen with dehydration.

Increases above the true level may occur with excessive use of tourniquet for sample collection, and with some methods that also measure acute phase reactants.

Levels may be up to 15% higher if the specimen is collected with the patient erect rather than supine.

In severe hypoalbuminaemia, non-immunological methods significantly overestimate the level of albumin.

See also Table 1.

Reference

Rochling FA. Clin Cornerstone 2001; 3(6): 1-12.