Cystatin C is a protein produced by the cells in your body. When kidneys work well, they keep the level of cystatin C in your blood just right. If the level of cystatin C in your blood is too high, it may mean your kidneys are not working well.
Usually, healthcare providers check your eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) with a blood test for creatinine, which is a waste product made by your body's muscles. Healthy kidneys keep the level of creatinine just right. The level of creatinine in your blood along with your age and gender are used to calculate your eGFR.
Sometimes, healthcare providers use a blood test for cystatin C to calculate eGFR. A cystatin C blood test can be useful if:
A past test for kidney function did not give clear results about your kidneys, so your healthcare provider wants to check again with a cystatin C test to be sure.
You are older or have lots of muscle (such as a bodybuilder), where creatinine levels can vary. In these cases, a cystatin C test may give a more accurate result than a creatinine test.
There is very little risk when having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
Sometimes the cystatin C test may not be accurate, such as in people with untreated thyroid conditions and those who are on steroids.
Before the test
Ask your healthcare provider if there are any special instructions to follow. It is recommended you avoid eating or drinking anything (except water) for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
During the test
A healthcare provider will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
After the test
Usually, you can return to your normal activities right after the blood is taken for the test.
Remember, it's important to ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. They are there to help you understand and feel comfortable with your health and healthcare.
This content is provided for informational use only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for the medical advice of a healthcare professional.
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Last Reviewed: 08/11/2023
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