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Porphyrins - urine

Porphyrins help form many important substances in the body. One of these is hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the blood.

Porphyrins can be found in urine. A urine porphyrins test measures the amount of these substances in the urine.

Alternative Names

Urine uroporphyrin; Urine coproporphyrin

How the Test is Performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet when waking up in the morning.
  • For the next 24 hours, every time you urinate, collect the urine in a special container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period.
  • On day 2, urinate into the container in the morning when waking up. Close the container, and label it with your name, date, and time you finished.
  • Return the container to your health care provider as instructed.

In infants:

Thoroughly wash the area around the urethra (the area where urine exits). Open the urine collection bag provided by your doctor. For boys, place the entire penis in the bag and attach it to the surrounding skin. For girls, place the bag over the labia.

You can diaper the baby as usual, over the collection bag.

Note: It may take a few tries to get the bag correctly into place. Check the infant frequently and change the bag after the infant has urinated. Drain the urine into the special container provided by your health care provider. Take the container to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible.

How to Prepare for the Test

Extra collection bags may be necessary if the urine sample is being taken from an infant.

Your doctor may tell you to stop taking any medicines that may affect the test results. NEVER stop taking any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Drugs that can affect test measurements include:

  • Aminosalicylic acid
  • Birth control pills
  • Barbiturates
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Chlorpropamide
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Griseofulvin
  • Morphine
  • Phenazopyridine
  • Procaine
  • Sulfonamides

How the Test will Feel

The test will feel the same as normal urination.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor will order this test if you have signs of porphyria or other disorders that can cause abnormal urine porphyrins.

Normal Results

Normal results vary. In general, for a 24-hour urine test, the range is about 50 - 300 mg (milligrams).

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of 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

Abnormal results may be due to:

References

Anderson K. The porphyrias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 217.

McPherson R, Threatte GA, Pincus MR. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.

Fuller SJ, Wiley JS. Heme biosynthesis and its disorders: porphyrias and sideroblastic anemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 36.

Updated: 3/3/2013

Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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