Chronic Kidney Disease: Detection and Evaluation

Am Fam Physician. 2017 Dec 15;96(12):776-783.


Chronic kidney disease affects 47 million people in the United States and is associated with significant health care costs, morbidity, and mortality. Because this disease can silently progress to advanced stages, early detection is critical for initiating timely interventions. Multiple guidelines recommend at least annual screening with serum creatinine, urine albumin/creatinine ratio, and urinalysis for patients with risk factors, particularly diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and a history of cardiovascular disease. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found insufficient evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for chronic kidney disease in the general population, and the American College of Physicians recommends against screening asymptomatic adults without risk factors. Persistently elevated serum creatinine and albuminuria are diagnostic and prognostic hallmarks of chronic kidney disease. Lower levels of albuminuria are associated with adverse renal and cardiovascular outcomes. Serum cystatin C is a novel biomarker that is most useful when a false-positive decreased estimated glomerular filtration rate calculated from serum creatinine is suspected. New guidelines incorporate albuminuria into the classification framework for chronic kidney disease and elaborate on identification of the disease, the frequency of follow-up, and recommendations for nephrology referral. Nephrology consultation is indicated for patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 30 mL per minute per 1.73 m2, persistent urine albumin/creatinine ratio greater than 300 mg per g or urine protein/creatinine ratio greater than 500 mg per g, or if there is evidence of a rapid loss of kidney function. A multidisciplinary approach between primary care physicians, nephrologists, and other subspecialists for implementing early interventions, providing education, and planning for advanced renal disease is key for effective management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / blood
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / urine
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Biomarkers
  • Creatinine