Uric acid

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Also known as: Urate
Formal name: Uric acid

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To detect high levels of uric acid, which could be a sign of the condition gout, or to monitor uric acid levels when undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy

When to Get Tested?

When you have joint pain or other symptoms that your doctor suspects may be due to gout or when monitoring certain chemotherapy or radiation therapies for cancer

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Uric acid is produced by the breakdown of purines. Purines are chemicals that come from nucleic acids (DNA, RNA). They enter the circulation from digestion of foods or from normal breakdown and turnover of cells in the body. Most uric acid is removed by the kidneys and disposed of in the urine; the remainder is excreted in the faeces.

If too much uric acid is produced or not enough is excreted, it can accumulate. The presence of excess uric acid can cause the condition called gout – an inflammation that occurs in joints when crystals derived from uric acid form in the joint fluid.

The most common reasons for accumulation of uric acid are an inherited tendency to overproduce uric acid or poor kidney function which gives decreased ability to excrete uric acid. Doctors don't need to test for low levels of uric acid.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm.

The Test

Common Questions

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

New Reference: Lopez-Olivo M et al., Am J Kidney Dis 2013 May 14. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2013.02.378. [Epub ahead of print]