Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate

Various different diseases, conditions and drugs can affect the function of the kidneys. The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) does not diagnose any kidney disease but is a test to assess how well your kidneys are working.

What is the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)

The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is a test that is used to assess how well your kidneys are working. The test estimates the volume of blood that is filtered by your kidneys over a given period of time. The test is called the estimated glomerular filtration rate because the glomeruli are the tiny filters in the kidneys. If these filters do not do their job properly then the kidney is said to have reduced or impaired kidney function.

The eGFR test involves a blood test which measures a chemical called creatinine. Creatinine is a breakdown product of muscle. Creatinine is normally cleared from the blood by the kidneys. If your kidneys are not working properly, the level of creatinine in the blood goes up. The eGFR is then calculated from your age, sex and blood creatinine level. An adjustment to the calculation is needed for people with African-Caribbean origin.

Stages of kidney function

The level of kidney function is divided into five stages:

Stage of kidney function eGFR ml/min/1.73m

Stage 1 – Normal kidney function. This does not rule out kidney disease, but the kidney is functioning well.

90 or more

Stage 2 – Mildly reduced kidney function.

60 to 89

Stage 3 – Moderately reduced kidney function.

30 to 59

Stage 4 – Severely reduced kidney function

15 to 29

Stage 5 – Severely reduced function. This is sometimes called end-stage kidney failure or established renal failure.

Less than 15

Note: it is not possible to assess the eGFR accurately in people with abnormal amounts of muscle and in people who have conditions that can affect the level of creatinine. This includes:

  • People with muscle wasting conditions.
  • People who have had an amputation of an arm or leg.
  • Malnourished people.
  • Pregnancy.
  • People with acute kidney failure.
  • People with a lot oedema (fluid retention).
  • Children.

� EMIS and PIP 2006   Updated: June 2006


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