Learn about the BUN test, its uses, and interpretation. Get insights into Blood Urea Nitrogen testing for kidney and overall health.

By Joshua Napilay on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is a BUN Test?

A Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) test is a standard medical diagnostic test that measures urea nitrogen concentration in the blood. Urea is a waste product formed in the liver due to protein metabolism. It is then filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted from the body through urine. The BUN test is valuable for assessing kidney function and overall health.

The BUN test involves drawing a blood sample, typically from a vein in the arm. This sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The test results are usually reported in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. An average BUN level typically falls within the range of 7 to 20 mg/dL, although this range may vary slightly depending on the laboratory and the patient's age and medical history.

The BUN test serves several vital purposes in healthcare:

  • Assessing Kidney Function: Elevated BUN levels can indicate impaired kidney function. When the kidneys are not working correctly, they may not filter urea effectively, increasing BUN levels.
  • Monitoring Kidney Disease: BUN tests are commonly used to monitor patients with chronic kidney disease or those undergoing treatment for kidney conditions.
  • Evaluating Dehydration: Dehydration can cause BUN levels to rise because less fluid is available to help the kidneys filter and excrete urea.
  • Assessing Liver Health: In some cases, elevated BUN levels may be associated with liver disease, as the liver produces urea.
  • Checking Protein Intake: BUN levels can be affected by dietary protein intake. High-protein diets or excessive protein breakdown can lead to elevated BUN levels.

The is a valuable tool for healthcare providers to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions, particularly those related to kidney and liver function. It is often used in conjunction with other tests and clinical information to provide a comprehensive assessment of a patient's health.

Printable BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) Test

Download this BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) Test to gain insights into your patient�??s kidney function and overall health.

How does it work?

1. Patient Identification

Start by entering the patient's personal information, including name, date of birth, and any unique identification numbers or hospital IDs.

2. Specimen Collection

A trained healthcare professional will draw a blood sample from the patient's vein, typically from the arm. This sample is collected in a unique tube or vial for blood tests.

3. Labeling

Properly label the blood sample with the patient's name, date, and other identifying information to prevent any mix-ups or errors.

4. Sample Processing

The labeled blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The blood is centrifuged in the lab to separate the liquid portion (serum or plasma) from the cellular components.

5. Chemical Analysis

The serum or plasma is subjected to chemical analysis to measure urea nitrogen concentration. This process involves using reagents that react with urea, producing measurable results.

6. Reporting Results

The laboratory generates a BUN test report that includes the patient's name, BUN level in mg/dL, and reference ranges. The reference range is essential for interpreting the results.

7. Interpretation

A healthcare provider reviews the BUN test results in the context of the patient's medical history and symptoms. Elevated BUN levels may indicate kidney dysfunction, dehydration, or other underlying conditions.

8. Clinical Decision-Making

Based on the BUN test results and other clinical information, the healthcare provider makes decisions regarding diagnosis, treatment, or further testing if necessary.

9. Patient Communication

The healthcare provider communicates the BUN test results to the patient, explaining their significance and any recommended follow-up actions or treatments.

10. Medical Records

The BUN test results are documented in the patient's medical records for future reference and kidney and overall health tracking.

BUN Test Example (sample)

A BUN test example, often available in PDF format, is a valuable reference for healthcare professionals and patients. This sample document typically includes sections for patient identification, specimen collection details, and the BUN test results. 

The patient identification section records essential details like the patient's name, date of birth, and identification number. The specimen collection section outlines the procedure for drawing and labeling the blood sample, ensuring accuracy in the testing process. Finally, the BUN test results are documented, including the measured BUN level in mg/dL and reference ranges for interpretation. These sample forms are vital in clinical documentation, facilitating proper record-keeping and communication between healthcare providers and patients regarding kidney function and overall health.

Download this BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) Test Example:

BUN Test Example (sample)

When would you use this test?

The BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) test is employed by healthcare practitioners in various clinical scenarios when specific information about kidney function and overall health is needed. Here's a detailed focus on when it is appropriate to use this test:

  • Routine Check-ups: Primary care physicians often use the BUN test for regular health check-ups, especially in patients with risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of kidney disease. It provides a baseline assessment of kidney function and can detect early signs of kidney problems.
  • Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): In emergency departments or critical care units, the BUN test is frequently ordered when there is suspicion of AKI due to factors like severe infections, dehydration, or drug toxicity. Rapid assessment is crucial to guide immediate interventions.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Monitoring: Nephrologists and primary care physicians use the BUN test to monitor the progression of CKD over time. Regular testing helps adjust treatment plans and assess interventions' effectiveness in slowing the disease.
  • Preoperative Assessment: Surgeons may order the BUN test before elective surgeries to assess a patient's kidney function. Abnormal BUN levels may influence the choice of anesthesia and guide post-operative care strategies.
  • Evaluation of Dehydration: Healthcare providers use the BUN test when patients exhibit signs of dehydration, such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, or low urine output. Elevated BUN levels can indicate insufficient fluid intake or excessive fluid loss.
  • Urological Conditions: Urologists utilize the BUN test when evaluating patients with urinary tract disorders, kidney stones, or urinary obstructions. It aids in diagnosing and monitoring kidney-related issues in these cases.
  • Rheumatological Diseases: Rheumatologists may order BUN tests when managing patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus or vasculitis, which can affect the kidneys. Regular monitoring helps in detecting kidney involvement early.

What do the results mean?

Interpreting the results of a BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) test is essential in assessing kidney function and overall health. The test measures urea nitrogen concentration in the blood and provides valuable insights into various medical conditions. Here are the expected BUN test results and their meanings:

  • Standard Range (7-20 mg/dL): A BUN level falling within this range is typically considered normal. It suggests that the kidneys effectively filter urea from the blood and excrete it through urine. However, it's essential to note that "normal" can vary slightly depending on the laboratory's reference range and the patient's age and health.
  • Elevated BUN Levels: A high BUN level, above the normal range, may indicate several conditions:
  • Kidney Dysfunction: Significant kidney damage or disease can reduce the kidney's ability to filter urea, leading to elevated BUN levels.
  • Dehydration: When the body lacks sufficient fluids, BUN levels can rise because the kidneys conserve water, concentrating urea in the blood.
  • High Protein Diet: Consuming excess protein or a high-protein diet can temporarily raise BUN levels as the body metabolizes protein into urea.
  • Certain Medications: Some medications, like diuretics or corticosteroids, can affect BUN levels.
  • Low BUN Levels: BUN levels below the normal range are less common but can indicate specific health issues:
  • Severe Liver Disease: In advanced liver disease, the liver may produce less urea, leading to lower BUN levels.
  • Malnutrition: Insufficient protein intake or malnutrition can result in decreased BUN levels.
  • Overhydration: An excessive intake of fluids may dilute urea in the blood, causing lower BUN levels.
  • BUN-to-Creatinine Ratio: Sometimes, BUN results are evaluated in conjunction with creatinine levels (BUN-to-creatinine ratio). This ratio can provide further information about kidney function. An elevated ratio may suggest dehydration or kidney issues, while a low ratio could indicate kidney disease or muscle breakdown.

Research & Evidence

The Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) test has a long history dating back to the early 20th century and has been widely used as a marker of kidney function and overall health. Its development and adoption have been supported by extensive research and clinical evidence.

Dr. Davenport introduced using urea as an indicator of kidney function in the early 20th century. Dr. Fairbanks developed a practical method for measuring urea nitrogen levels in blood serum in the 1940s, becoming the basis for the modern BUN test.

The BUN test has been extensively studied and validated for its diagnostic utility in assessing kidney function. Research has shown that elevated BUN levels are associated with various kidney disorders, including acute kidney injury (AKI), chronic kidney disease (CKD), and glomerular diseases.

Major medical organizations and guidelines, such as those from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the American College of Physicians (ACP), recommend using BUN testing for routine health assessments and diagnosing and monitoring kidney-related conditions.

The BUN test has been employed in numerous studies investigating conditions that affect kidney function, such as diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune diseases like lupus. It serves as a valuable marker for monitoring disease progression and treatment response.

Research has also demonstrated the BUN test's value in monitoring the effects of medications, particularly those that may impact kidney function or require dose adjustments based on BUN levels.

The BUN test has been extensively researched in emergency medicine to assess dehydration, AKI, and other critical conditions. It aids in rapid decision-making and appropriate interventions.

The BUN test's long history and substantial research and evidence supporting its use have solidified its role as a fundamental medical diagnostic tool. It continues to be a critical component of clinical assessments, helping healthcare professionals diagnose, monitor, and manage various kidney and overall health conditions.

Why use Carepatron as your BUN app?

Carepatron stands out as the ideal choice for managing BUN tests as a dedicated BUN Test app and software solution for several compelling reasons:

  • Specialized BUN Test Focus: Carepatron is tailored specifically for healthcare professionals and institutions dealing with diagnostic tests like the BUN test. This technical focus ensures that the platform is designed to meet the unique needs and workflows of healthcare providers dealing with kidney function assessments and related diagnostics.
  • Comprehensive Clinical Documentation: Carepatron provides extensive clinical documentation capabilities. It allows healthcare practitioners to efficiently capture and store BUN test results, patient information, and relevant medical history in one secure location. This ensures accurate and organized record-keeping, making it easier to track patient progress over time.
  • Streamlined Workflow: Carepatron streamlines the BUN testing process, from ordering the test to generating and sharing results. It simplifies the steps involved in managing BUN tests, reducing administrative burden, and improving efficiency in healthcare settings.
  • Data Security and Compliance: Carepatron prioritizes data security and compliance with healthcare regulations. Patient information and test results are stored securely, ensuring confidentiality and compliance with HIPAA and other relevant data protection standards.
  • Integration Capabilities: Carepatron is designed to seamlessly integrate with other healthcare and electronic health records (EHR) systems. This integration facilitates a smooth flow of information between different components of the healthcare infrastructure, enhancing interoperability and data exchange.
  • Real-time Communication: The platform supports real-time communication between healthcare providers, making it easy to discuss BUN test results, coordinate patient care, and share insights for better-informed decisions.
  • Patient Engagement: Carepatron includes patient engagement features, allowing patients to access their BUN test results, understand their significance, and engage in shared decision-making with their healthcare providers.
  • Scalability: Carepatron is scalable, making it suitable for healthcare institutions of various sizes, from small clinics to large hospitals. It can adapt to the evolving needs and growth of healthcare facilities.
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American Kidney Fund. (2022). Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test. American Kidney Fund. https://www.kidneyfund.org/all-about-kidneys/tests/blood-urea-nitrogen-bun-test

Blood urea nitrogen - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=urea_nitrogen_serum

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test | HealthLink BC. (n.d.). https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/tests-treatments-medications/medical-tests/blood-urea-nitrogen

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test - Mayo Clinic. (2023, August 5). https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/blood-urea-nitrogen/about/pac-20384821

BUN (Blood urea nitrogen). (n.d.). https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/bun-blood-urea-nitrogen/

Crna, R. N. M. (2018, September 29). Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bun

Huizen, J. (2023, July 26). What are BUN levels, and what do they measure? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312337

Lu, C. M., MD PhD. (2022, November 29). Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test - Testing.com. Testing.com. https://www.testing.com/tests/blood-urea-nitrogen-bun/

Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17684-blood-urea-nitrogen-bun-test

What is a blood urea nitrogen test? (2017, January 24). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/blood-urea-nitrogen-test

Who typically requests a BUN Test?
Who typically requests a BUN Test?

Commonly asked questions

Who typically requests a BUN Test?

Healthcare providers, including primary care physicians, nephrologists, urologists, and emergency room physicians, typically request BUN tests.

When are BUN Tests used?

BUN tests assess kidney function, monitor kidney disease, diagnose conditions like dehydration and urinary tract disorders, and evaluate overall health. They are also used in preoperative assessments and emergencies.

How are BUN Tests used?

A blood sample is drawn from a patient, usually from the arm, and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory measures urea nitrogen concentration in the blood, and healthcare providers interpret the results.

How long does a BUN Test take?

The test takes only a few minutes to draw the blood sample. However, the total turnaround time for results can vary depending on the laboratory's workload but usually ranges from a few hours to a day or two.

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