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BUN - blood test

Definition

BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen. Urea nitrogen is what forms when protein breaks down.

A test can be done to measure the amount of urea nitrogen in the blood.

Alternative Names

Blood urea nitrogen

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is typically drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

How to prepare for the test

Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.

  • Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
  • Do not stop or change your medications without talking to your doctor first.

How the test will feel

You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.

Why the test is performed

The BUN test is often done to check kidney function.

Normal Values

The normal result is generally 6 - 20 mg/dL.

Note: Normal values may vary among different labs. Talk to your doctor about your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

Higher-than-normal levels may be due to:

Lower-than-normal levels may be due to:

  • Liver failure
  • Low protein diet
  • Malnutrition
  • Over-hydration

Special considerations

For people with liver disease, the BUN level may be low even if the kidneys are normal.

References

Landry DW, Basari H. Approach to the patient with kidney disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 116.


Review Date: 4/29/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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