What is uric acid?

Uric acid is the end product of purine (protein) metabolism or oxidation in the body, it is produced by the breakdown of purines (the constituent molecules of DNA and RNA) and is usually discarded from the body, by the kidney. It is present in blood in a concentration of about 5mg or 100ml and is excreted in urine, in amounts that of 1g per day or less. An increases in uric acid in the blood, is usually caused by the imbalance between its production and its waste. Uric acid is a chemical that is produced when your body breaks down food that contain organic compounds called purines, foods and beverages with a high purine content are as follows; liver, anchovies, mackerel, beer, wine, and dried beans.

However purines are also created through the natural process of cell breakdown within the body itself. Most uric acid is dissolved in the blood, and filtered through the kidneys, and normally expelled in the urine. However the body may sometimes produce too much uric acid, or it may not filter out enough of it. Thus a patient may be subject to hyperuricemia, which is the name of the disorder that occurs when you have too much uric acid in your body.


Why measure the level of uric acid?

High levels of uric acid are associated with a condition known as gout. This condition is a form of arthritis, which causes swelling of the joints, this is most evident in the feet and big toes. Another cause of hyperuricemia is the increase of cell death within the human body, which may be due to the result of cancer or cancer treatments, which then may lead to an accumulation of uric acid in the body.

On the other hand it is also possible to have a deficient level of uric acid in your blood, which is a symptom of kidney or liver disease. Fanconi syndrome is another symptom of deficient levels of uric acid in the blood, in which the kidney tubules prevent the absorption of substances such as glucose and uric acid, and instead these substances are then passed in the urine instead.

This test is most commonly used to diagnose and monitor as well as identify people with the disease gout. It is also used to check kidney function after an injury, as well as find the cause of kidney stones, and is used to diagnose kidney disorders. It is also to help monitor people who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and too make sure that there isn’t a uric acid deficient within the subject.

If you are about to undergo chemotherapy or are currently undergoing chemotherapy then you may need to undergo this test. Other instances when this test may be appropriate are, if you have frequent kidney stones, if you have joint pain or swelling that may be related to gout, or if you have previously been diagnosed with gout.


Standard of preparation

Sampling is usually done in the morning when you visit the hospital. The doctor will advise you if there is a need to be fasting prior the examination. However it is advised that you do not consume alcohol, certain medications (aspirin and ibuprofen), high levels of vitamin C. Inform your doctor about any medication you are taking prior to the exam.



Is the examination painful or dangerous?

The examination is neither dangerous nor painful. The patient may feel a tingling sensation when the needle used to extract blood enters the arm.

How is the exam performed?

The examination consists of a simple blood test.