Cystatin C is a test which may be used instead of the creatinine clearance test. This test is used to screen for kidney dysfunction and monitor the treatment of those who suffer from the dysfunction.
This test is especially useful for those who may be suffering from liver cirrhosis or are very obese. People who are malnourished or have recently reduced muscle mass inexplicably will also find this test useful. With the help of this test, onset of kidney disorders can also be detected.
Though there are several other reasons the cystatin C test may be performed, kidney dysfunction is the main cause. In addition to that, if you have an increased risk of a cardio vascular disease, this test can be used to confirm that. For older people, the test can predict heart failure.
The cystatin C test is considered rather useful as a marker for kidney diseases that are chronic in nature. The creatinine test is not useful to detect early damage in the kidneys because creatinine is not produced until the damage is advanced. The urine cystatin C test however, is able to detect even early onset of the disease. The doctors too usually recommend this test when they want to check for early damage in the kidneys.
The serum cystatin C test may be useful in ascertaining potential risk of heart problems. The test is often used as a part of the preoperative screening before the doctors prescribe medications. This test may also be conducted before conducting scans which contain intravenous dyes to monitor the flow.
Cystatin C is produced in the body at a constant rate. The compound is then broken down in another part of the kidney and is removed by a process known as glomerular filtration. The steady level is maintained in the blood. The concentrations of cystatin C do not depend on any external or internal factors. They are also not affected by any particular drugs. However, corticosteroids may have a slight affect on them.
If a person has an elevated cystatin level but doesn’t have a kidney disease, it is most likely that the person is suffering from another malignant disease or rheumatic disease. Recently it has been found out that elevated levels of cystatin C in the bodily fluids may also be an indication of increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and heart failure.
Cystatin C levels may also be associated with a recent renal transplant or operation.