Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To diagnose membranous nephropathy, your doctor may start with a detailed medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor may also recommend certain tests to identify possible causes and to determine how well your kidneys are working. These tests might include:

  • Urine tests. You may be asked to provide a urine sample so that your doctor can determine the amount of protein present in your urine.
  • Blood tests. From a sample of your blood, your doctor can test your cholesterol and triglyceride levels to see if they're elevated. Your doctor may also check your kidney function with a creatinine blood test. Fasting blood sugar and glycosylated hemoglobin tests check for diabetes. Other blood tests may reveal autoimmune diseases or infection with viruses, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test. The GFR test estimates your level of kidney function and can help your doctor determine your stage of kidney disease.
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. The ANA test checks a sample of your blood for the presence of antinuclear antibodies, substances which attack your body's own tissues. High levels of antinuclear antibodies indicate an autoimmune disease.
  • Imaging exam. An ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scan allows your doctor to see the structure of your kidneys and urinary tract.
  • Kidney biopsy. In this procedure, your doctor removes a small piece of your kidney to examine under a microscope and identify what type of kidney disease you have. Kidney biopsy can also assess how much kidney damage has occurred and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

In some cases, membranous nephropathy occurs without any noticeable symptoms, and your doctor may discover the condition when the results of a routine urine test (urinalysis) show elevated protein levels in your urine (proteinuria).

Oct. 21, 2014