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Prealbumin Blood Test

Test Overview

This test measures the amount of prealbumin in the blood. Prealbumin is a protein that is made in the liver and released in the blood. It helps carry certain hormones that regulate the way the body uses energy and other substances through the blood.

When prealbumin levels are lower than normal, it may be a sign of a poor diet (malnutrition). Your doctor may use the results of this test to make changes in your diet. He or she also may use the results to see how well supplements or protein replacement fluids are working.

Other health problems also may cause your levels to drop. You may need another blood test to be sure that a poor diet is the reason for your low prealbumin levels.

Why It Is Done

A prealbumin blood test is done to:

  • Check for signs of a poor diet (malnutrition).
  • Find out if you're getting enough nutrients, mainly protein, in your diet. Protein is important for tissue growth and tissue healing.
  • Keep track of your nutrition while you're in the hospital or before and after surgery. Poor nutrition can slow healing and recovery.
  • See how well supplements or protein replacement fluids are working.

How To Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

Watch

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

Normal

Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.

High values

High prealbumin levels may be caused by:

Low values

Low prealbumin levels may be caused by:

  • A poor diet (malnutrition).
  • Liver problems.
  • Cancer.
  • Lack of zinc in the diet.

Credits

Current as of: June 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine