Quantitative urinary copper

Alternative names
Quantitative urinary copper

Definition
This is a test to measure the amount of copper in urine.

How the test is performed
A 24-hour urine sample is needed. The health care provider will instruct you, if necessary, to discontinue drugs that may interfere with the test.

     
  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet upon arising in the morning.  
  • Collect all subsequent urine (in a special container) for the next 24 hours.  
  • On day 2, urinate into the container in the morning upon arising.  
  • Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period. Label the container with your name, the date, the time of completion, and return it as instructed.

For infants, thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a Urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on your infant. For males, the entire penis can be placed in the bag and the adhesive attached to the skin. For females, the bag is placed over the labia. Place a diaper over the infant (bag and all).

The infant should be checked frequently and the bag changed after the infant has urinated into the bag. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts - lively infants can displace the bag, causing an inability to obtain the specimen. The urine is drained into the container for transport to the laboratory.

Deliver it to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible upon completion. The lab analyzes the sample for the amount of copper.

How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary for this test, but if the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary.

How the test will feel
The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed
Copper is measured in the urine as a test for the presence of Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s handling of copper.

Normal Values
The normal range is 10 to 30 mcg/24 hr.

Note: mcg/24 hr = micrograms per 24 hours

What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results show elevated levels of copper and can indicate:

     
  • Wilson’s disease  
  • chronic active hepatitis  
  • biliary cirrhosis

What the risks are
There are no risks.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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