Uric acid is produced by the breakdown of purines, chemicals that enter the bloodstream during digestion of foods or from normal breakdown of some of the body's cells. The kidneys filter out most of the uric acid in the blood and eliminate it from the body in the urine. Some uric acid also leaves the body in the feces.
Uric acid can accumulate when the body produces too much or fails to excrete enough of it. Excess uric acid can also form crystals or kidney stones that can damage the kidneys.
Doctors may order a uric acid blood test if they suspect high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream because the body is breaking down cells too quickly or not expelling uric acid as well as it should. Some children with leukemia or other types of cancer can have high levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia).
The uric acid blood test also can help doctors monitor kids receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment. These treatments can increase the amount of uric acid in the blood, so the test can help make sure that levels don't get too high.
Rarely, excess uric acid in kids can cause gout, a very painful inflammation caused by uric acid crystals in joint fluid (also called synovial fluid). Gout most often affects the joints of the ankles, feet, and toes.
The uric acid blood test also may be ordered if kids show signs of kidney failure. Low levels of uric acid (hypouricemia) in the bloodstream can occur with starvation and certain medical conditions.
Your doctor may ask that your child not eat or drink anything for 4 hours before the uric acid blood test, and also might tell you to halt any medications your child takes that could affect test results.
A health professional will clean the skin surface with antiseptic and place an elastic band (tourniquet) around the upper arm to apply pressure and cause the veins to swell with blood. Then a needle is inserted into a vein (usually in the arm inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand) and blood is withdrawn and collected in a vial or syringe.
After the procedure, the elastic band is removed. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed and the area is covered with cotton or a bandage to stop the bleeding. Collecting the blood for the test will only take a few minutes.
Collecting a blood sample is only temporarily uncomfortable and can feel like a quick pinprick. Afterward, there may be some mild bruising, which should go away in a few days.
The blood sample will be processed by a machine. The results usually are available within 1-2 days.
The uric acid blood test is considered a safe procedure. However, as with many medical tests, some problems can occur with having blood drawn:
Having a blood test is relatively painless. Still, many children are afraid of needles. Explaining the test in terms your child can understand might help ease any fear.
Allow your child to ask the technician any questions he or she might have. Tell your child to try to relax and stay still during the procedure, as tensing muscles and moving can make it harder and more painful to draw blood. It also may help for your child to look away when the needle is being inserted into the skin.
If you have questions about the uric acid blood test, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011
|Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation Candlelighters provides support and information for children and teens with cancer.|
|OncoLink OncoLink provides patients and professionals with cancer information, support, and resources.|
|National Kidney Foundation (NKF) NKF seeks to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation.|
|American Cancer Society The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service. Call:(800) ACS-2345|
|American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) The AAKP serves kidney patients and their families by helping them cope with the emotional, physical, and social impact of kidney failure.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|National Cancer Institute (NCI) NCI provides detailed information about cancer research, various kinds of cancer, and living with cancer. Call: (800) 4-CANCER|
|Radiation Therapy Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, irradiation, or X-ray therapy, is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment.|
|Leukemia Leukemia refers to cancers of the white blood cells (also called leukocytes or WBCs). With the proper treatment, the outlook for kids who are diagnosed with leukemia is quite good.|
|A Directory of Medical Tests Sometimes, doctors need to order tests to evaluate a child's health or to understand what's causing an illness. Here are some common ones.|
|Kidneys and Urinary Tract The bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a child's fist, perform several functions essential to health. Their most important role is to filter blood and produce urine.|
|Blood Test (Video) This video shows what it's like to get a blood test.|
|Getting a Blood Test (Video) A blood test might sound scary, but it usually takes less than a minute. Watch what happens in this video for kids.|
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