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Delta-ALA urine test

Delta-aminolevulinic acid

 

Delta-ALA is a protein (amino acid) produced by the liver. A test can be done to measure the amount of this substance in the urine.

How the Test is Performed

 

After you provide a urine sample, it is tested in the lab. This is called a random urine sample.

If needed, your health care provider may ask you to collect your urine at home over 24 hours. This is called a 24-hour urine sample. Your provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.

 

How to Prepare for the Test

 

Your health care provider may tell you to temporarily stop taking any medicines that can affect test results. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take. These include:

  • Penicillin (an antibiotic)
  • Barbiturates (medicnes to treat anxiety)
  • Birth control pills
  • Griseofulvin (medicine to treat fungal infections)

 

How the Test will Feel

 

The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

 

Why the Test is Performed

 

This test looks for an increased level of delta-ALA. It may be used to help diagnose a condition called porphyria.

 

Normal Results

 

In general, the normal range is less than 6 mg for a random urine sample. The normal range is 0 to 7 mg for a 24 hour sample.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly from one lab to another. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

 

What Abnormal Results Mean

 

An increased level of urinary delta-ALA may indicate:

  • Lead poisoning
  • Porphyria (several types)

A decreased level may occur with chronic (long-term) liver disease.

 

Risks

 

There are no risks.

 

 

References

Fuller SJ, Wiley JS. Heme biosynthesis and its disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastisi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 36.

 
  • Urine sample

    Urine sample - illustration

    A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

    Urine sample

    illustration

    • Urine sample

      Urine sample - illustration

      A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

      Urine sample

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

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          Tests for Delta-ALA urine test

           

           

          Review Date: 1/27/2015

          Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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