Bilirubin in Urine

What is a bilirubin in urine test?

A bilirubin in urine test measures the levels of bilirubin in your urine. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance made during the body’s normal process of breaking down red blood cells. Bilirubin is found in bile, a fluid in your liver that helps you digest food. If your liver is healthy, it will remove most of the bilirubin from your body. If your liver is damaged, bilirubin can leak into the blood and urine. Bilirubin in urine may be a sign of liver disease.

Other names: urine test, urine analysis, UA, chemical urinalysis, direct bilirubin

What is it used for?

A bilirubin in urine test is often part of a urinalysis, a test that measures different cells, chemicals, and other substances in your urine. Urinalysis is often included as part of a routine exam. This test may also be used to check for liver problems.

Why do I need a bilirubin in urine test?

Your health care provider may have ordered a bilirubin in urine test as part of your regular checkup, or if you have symptoms of liver disease. These symptoms include:

  • Jaundice, a condition that causes your skin and eyes to turn yellow
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

Because bilirubin in urine can indicate liver damage before other symptoms appear, your health care provider may order a bilirubin in urine test if you are at a higher risk for liver damage. Risk factors for liver disease include:

  • Family history of liver disease
  • Heavy drinking
  • Exposure or possible exposure to hepatitis virus
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Taking certain medicines that can cause liver damage

What happens during a bilirubin in urine test?

Your health care provider will need to collect a sample of your urine. During your office visit, you will receive a container to collect the urine and special instructions to make sure that the sample is sterile. These instructions are often called the “clean catch method.” The clean catch method includes the following steps:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Clean your genital area with a cleansing pad given to you by your provider. Men should wipe the tip of their penis. Women should open their labia and clean from front to back.
  3. Start to urinate into the toilet.
  4. Move the collection container under your urine stream.
  5. Collect at least an ounce or two of urine into the container, which should have markings to indicate the amounts.
  6. Finish urinating into the toilet.
  7. Return the sample container to your health care provider.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations to test for bilirubin in urine. If your health care provider has ordered other urine or blood tests, you may need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours before the test. Your health care provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to having a urinalysis or a bilirubin in urine test.

What do the results mean?

If bilirubin is found in your urine, it may indicate:

  • A liver disease such as hepatitis
  • A blockage in the structures that carry bile from your liver
  • A problem with liver function

A bilirubin in urine test is only one measure of liver function. If your results are abnormal, your health care provider may order additional blood and urine tests, including a liver panel. A liver panel is a series of blood tests that measure various enzymes, proteins, and substances in the liver. It is often used to detect liver disease.

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