Diagnostic Performance of Random Urine Samples Using Albumin Concentration vs Ratio of Albumin to Creatinine for Microalbuminuria Screening in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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A random urine sample measuring the albumin concentration (UAC) without simultaneously measuring the urinary creatinine is less expensive than measuring the ratio of albumin to creatinine (ACR), but comparisons of their diagnostic performance for microalbuminuria screening among patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) have not been undertaken in previous meta-analyses.


To compare the diagnostic performance of the UAC vs the ACR in random urine samples for microalbuminuria screening among patients with DM.


Electronic literature searches of PubMed, MEDLINE, and Scopus for English-language publications from the earliest available date of indexing through July 31, 2012.


Clinical studies assessing the UAC or the ACR of random urine samples in detecting the presence of microalbuminuria among patients with DM using a urinary albumin excretion rate of 30 to 300 mg/d in 24-hour timed urine collections as the criterion standard.


Bivariate random-effects models for analysis and pooling of the diagnostic performance measures across studies, as well as comparisons between different screening tests.


The primary end point was the diagnostic performance measures of the UAC or the ACR in random urine samples, as well as comparisons between them.


We identified 14 studies, with a total of 2078 patients; 9 studies reported on the UAC, and 12 studies reported on the ACR. Meta-analysis showed pooled sensitivities of 0.85 and 0.87 for the UAC and the ACR, respectively, and pooled specificities of 0.88 and 0.88, respectively. No differences in sensitivity (P = .70), specificity (P = .63), or diagnostic odds ratios (P = .59) between the UAC and the ACR were found. The time point of urine collection did not affect the diagnostic performance of either test.


The UAC and the ACR yielded high sensitivity and specificity for the detection of microalbuminuria. Because the diagnostic performance of the UAC is comparable to that of the ACR, our findings indicate that the UAC of random urine samples may become the screening tool of choice for the population with DM, considering the rising incidence of DM and the constrained health care resources in many countries.

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