Reasons, Procedure & Preparation Required For Serum Copper Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The serum copper test is one of the diagnostic methods of ascertaining whether a patient is suffering from some kind of liver problem or from a genetic disease called Wilson's disease. Copper is an essential element in the body and is obtained from the diet in minute quantities. It is used in the bio-electrical mechanisms of the body and also in the stability of mood and skin color. This is because of its role in an enzymatic form in the production of melanin. The test for Wilson's disease uses two markers, which are the levels of copper in serum or copper in plasma against the levels of copper in the urine. Elevated serum copper levels are not as dangerous as low levels of serum copper against a high level of the metal in the urine. If the amount of copper in the urine is more than the level in the blood then it is a confirmation of the disease. Besides this, a copper serum count above 40 is a sure indication of Wilson's disease.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

The copper levels tests are conducted to check for the presence of liver cirrhosis and Wilson's disease. There are other tests that are also required, like the level of ceruloplasmin, genetic testing for the Wilson's disease gene, and a liver biopsy as well. In its initial stages, Wilson's disease can be treated by a simple modification of the diet and an increase in the amount of zinc that is taken; however, in the more advanced stages of the disease, a liver transplant might be required. This is because the liver will reach a stage where it will be scared extensively due to chronic elevated copper levels in the body.


The serum copper levels test is conducted by taking a blood sample and then checking for the presence of the metal. This test may have to be compared with the levels of copper that is excreted from the body. This is performed by the twenty four hour urine copper test. When the two results are compared, a high level of copper in the urine against a low serum level of copper is indicative of Wilson's disease.


There is no specific preparation that is required at all. Though you must avoid all copper containing foods like nuts, chocolate, and seafood before taking the test for Wilson's disease.