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What is BUN in a blood test?

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Quick Answer

A blood urea nitrogen, or BUN, test is used to gauge the amount of nitrogen in the blood of a person. It also helps to understand how well the liver and kidneys are functioning, as stated by the Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

If the urea nitrogen levels are high in the blood, it shows that the kidneys are not functioning properly. A person is advised not to consume a lot of meat or other protein-rich food 24 hours prior the test. A BUN test may be conducted together with a creatinine test. According to WebMD, the amount of creatinine in the body also helps to ascertain if the kidneys are functioning properly. Both tests are used to determine the BUN-to-creatinine ratio, which helps to check for conditions, such as dehydration.

To perform the test, a technician first stops the blood flow by wrapping the upper arm with an elastic band. He sterilizes the injection site with alcohol, inserts a needle into a vein in the arm, and draws the blood into a syringe. Once the technician draws enough blood, he undoes the band and withdraws the needle while pressing a cotton ball against the injection site. He then puts a bandage over the site and sends the blood to a lab for analysis.

Although the BUN test is often a safe procedure, it may result in phlebitis, which is the inflammation of the vein following a blood sample draw, warns WebMD. Drawing a blood sample from people with clotting disorders may also be problematic as it may result in prolonged bleeding. The needle can also cause bruises during the injection.

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