Test Procedure : Copper

Why Get Tested?
To measure the amount of copper in the blood, urine, or liver; to help diagnose and monitor Wilson’s disease; sometimes to identify copper deficiencies and excesses
When to Get Tested?
When you have jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, behavioral changes, tremors, or other symptoms that your doctor thinks may be due to Wilson’s disease or, rarely, to copper deficiency or excess; at intervals when you are being treated for a copper-related condition
Sample Required?
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm and/or a 24-hour urine sample; sometimes a liver biopsy sample.

How is it used?

Copper testing is primarily ordered to help diagnose Wilson’s disease. If a doctor suspects Wilson’s, then he would typically order a total and/or free (unbound) blood copper test along with a ceruloplasmin level. If these tests are abnormal or equivocal, then they may be followed by a 24-hour urine copper test to measure copper excretion and a hepatic (liver) copper test to evaluate copper storage. Genetic testing may also be performed to detect mutations in the ATP7B gene if Wilson’s disease is suspected. However, these tests have limited availability and are usually performed in special reference or research laboratories.

If a doctor suspects copper toxicity, copper deficiency, or a disorder that is inhibiting copper metabolism, then he may order blood and/or urine copper tests along with ceruloplasmin to help evaluate the patient’s condition. One or more copper tests may be ordered to help monitor the effectiveness of treatment for Wilson’s disease, copper excess, or copper deficiency.

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