Comparison of Proteinuria Diagnostic Methods in Pregnant Patients. Perinatal Journal 2023;31(0):-
- University of Health Sciences Hamidiye School of Medicine, Basaksehir City Hospital Division of Perinatology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Istanbul Turkiye
- Ondokuz Mayis University Faculty of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Samsun Turkiye
Ozge Ozdemir, University of Health Sciences Hamidiye School of Medicine, Basaksehir City Hospital Division of Perinatology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Istanbul Turkiye, [email protected]
Manuscript Received: October 13, 2022
Manuscript Accepted: February 10, 2023
Earlyview Date: February 10, 2023
Conflicts of Interest
No conflicts declared.
This study aimed to compare spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio and 24-hour urine methods in pregnant patients and to evaluate the accuracy of spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio against the reference standard 24-hour urine method.
This retrospective study included 399 pregnant patients diagnosed with proteinuria, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia. Urinary protein concentrations were measured by spot dipstick urine analysis, spot urinary protein-to-creatinine, and 24-hour total proteinuria via 24-hour urine collection. The 24-hour total proteinuria measurement was accepted as the reference standard for diagnosis of proteinuria and significant proteinuria was defined as ≥300 mg of protein in the 24-h urine collection.
According to the receiver operating characteristics analysis of the spot urinary protein-to-creatinine ratio measurements, the cut-off value of the protein-to-creatinine ratio method was ≥0.443 mg protein/mg creatinine, the area under the curve was 0.887, sensitivity was 77.14%, specificity was 87.76%, and accuracy was 84.96%. According to the receiver operating characteristics analysis of the 24-hour total proteinuria measurements, these values were >0.405 mg/day, 0.874, 82.86%, 84.64%, and, 84.17% respectively. No difference was observed between these two proteinuria methods regarding receiver operating characteristics analysis (p=0.475). There was a strong and significant correlation between the spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria (r=0.842, p<0.001).
Our finding revealed that a strong and significant correlation between the spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria and it may be used as an alternative to the 24-hour total proteinuria. In addition, the spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio is noteworthy, especially an emergency situation in pregnant women where time is limited to make a rapid clinical decision.
proteinuria, diagnosis, pregnancy, urine protein-to-creatinine ratio
IntroductionProteinuria is a general term used to define proteins such as albumin and globulin in the urine with an amount greater than 150 mg per day and it is utilized for the diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of various clinical conditions including transient (e.g., fever, urinary tract infection, pregnancy) and permanent (e.g., renal disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease) cases [1,2]. The diagnosis of proteinuria in pregnancy plays a major role in maternity care since it is one of the main symptoms of preeclampsia which is a pregnancy-specific disorder with the possibility of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality [3,4]. The 24-hour urine collection has been well established and accepted as the reference standard for measuring urinary protein excretion [5-7]. However, it has serious drawbacks such as being an inconvenient and costly method, delayed diagnosis, and incomplete collection possibility causing inexact results [6-8]. Thus, researchers are studying on the development of simpler, quicker, and also reliable alternative methods for detecting proteinuria [6,9]. One of these methods, the spot protein-to-creatinine (P/C) ratio has been recommended in the US National Kidney Foundation Guidelines . The use of the spot P/C ratio method has been reported in several studies and some have reported successful findings regarding correlation with the 24-hour urine collection method [7,10-12], whereas some others claimed inadequate prediction of proteinuria [6,8,13]. Another widely used and basic method for urine screening is the dipstick method; however, it is not suggested for diagnosis in critical clinical cases, as it can provide imprecise or negative false data [6, 14]. Since, still, there is not a standardized method for detection of proteinuria, the awareness of clinicians for different laboratory techniques is crucial for the most convenient medical treatment .
This study aimed to compare the protein quantities determined via spot urine P/C ratio and 24-hour urine methods in pregnant women and to evaluate the accuracy of spot urine P/C ratio against the reference standard 24-hour urine method.
MethodsThis retrospective study was conducted in Health Science University, Hamidiye Medical School, Başakşehir City Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey, at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Division of Perinatology between May 2020 and February 2022 and included all pregnant women who were diagnosed with proteinuria, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia. According to these criteria, 422 patients met the inclusion criteria and of these, 23 were excluded during the study due to the lack of 24-hour urine collection and/or P/C measurement. Patients were not recruited in the study more than once. Patients having systemic diseases likely to cause proteinuria and those having proteinuria before the pregnancy were excluded. In addition, the urine samples with >10 leucocytes or erythrocytes were excluded. Urinary protein concentrations were measured by spot dipstick urine analysis, spot urinary P/C, and 24-hour total proteinuria via 24-hour urine collection. Dipstick urine analysis was performed at admission and spot urine P/C measurement was carried out soon after 24-hour urine collection. In the spot dipstick urine analysis, values were displayed as negative (-), trace amount, +1, +2, and, +3. The cases with negative or trace amounts of proteinuria were accepted as negative proteinuria and the others were accepted as positive proteinuria. The clean-catch method was used to collect the urine samples of the patients except for the severe cases where urethral catheter was utilized.
Protein and creatinine levels of spot urinary and 24-hour total proteinuria samples were measured using the turbidimetry technique with an autoanalyzer (Cobas 8000, c720 module, Roche, Switzerland). Laboratory technicians were blinded to the clinical conditions of the patients and the magnitude ≥300 mg of proteinuria in the 24-hour urine collection was set as significant and positive for proteinuria. The 24-hour total proteinuria measurement was accepted as the reference standard for diagnosis of proteinuria in this study. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Health Science University, Hamidiye Medical School, Başakşehir City Hospital (date: 26.01.2022; approval number: 32). The study was carried out in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki. Patient confidentiality protected according to the universally accepted guidelines and rules.
Data analysis was performed using the MedCalc ® (version 20.104–MedCalc Software Ltd.) package program. A p value of <0.05 was set as statistically significant. The descriptive statistical data were expressed as mean and minimum-maximum (range) for numerical variables. The discriminant cut-off values and threshold values, sensitivity and specificity of spot urine P/C ratio, and 24-hour total proteinuria were calculated by Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves. The evaluated prediction parameters were as follows: sensitivity, specificity, and AUC at varying discrimination thresholds. The least-square method using a single-slope linear model and Spearman’s correlation test were used to analyze the relationship between P/C ratio and 24-hour total proteinuria. The comparison of the ROC analysis curves obtained with P/C ratio and 24-hour total proteinuria methods were evaluated using ROC curve analysis.
ResultsThe mean maternal age of the patients was 28.2±4.8 years, the mean weight was 64.5±9.4 kg, the mean height was 157.5±8.4 cm, the mean gravity was 1.6±0.9, the mean parity was 0.5±0.8, and the mean gestational age was 27.7±3.8 weeks. The median spot urine P/C ratio was calculated as 0.235 (0.2140-0.2706) g/day and the median 24-hour total proteinuria was found as 0.282 (0.2500-0.3101) g/day.
According to the spot dipstick urine analysis of the patients, the rate was 45.61% for negative; 28.07% for trace amount; 9.78% for 1+; 6.76% for 2+ and 9.78% for 3+ values on dipstick test.
The ROC analysis of the P/C ratio proteinuria measurements are shown in Figure 1. Accordingly, the cut-off value of the P/C ratio method was calculated as ≥0.443 mg protein/mg creatinine, the area under the curve (AUC) was found as 0.887, sensitivity was 77.14%, specificity was 87.76%, and accuracy was 84.96%. The ROC analysis of the 24-hour total proteinuria measurements is shown in Figure 2. Accordingly, the cut-off value of the 24-hour total proteinuria method was calculated as >0.405 mg/day, the AUC was found as 0.874, sensitivity was 82.86%, specificity was 84.64%, and accuracy was 84.17%. There is no significant difference between these two proteinuria methods regarding ROC analysis (p=0.475). For various cut-off values of proteinuria in the 24-hour total proteinuria method, the corresponding cut-off, AUC, sensitivity and specificity values of the P/C ratio proteinuria method are summarized in Table 1.
The correlation analysis between the spot urine P/C ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria and the formula are shown in Figure 3. There was a strong and significant correlation between the spot urine P/C ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria (r=0.842, p<0.001).
DiscussionThe present study findings revealed that there was a strong and significant correlation between the spot urine P/C ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria test results in parallel with previous studies [7,11,12,15,16] with the range of the sensitivity between 81 and 90%, specificity between 70 and 93%. In our study, similar values were obtained with the above-mentioned literatures with a sensitivity of 77.14%, a specificity of 87.76% between the spot urine P/C ratio and 24-hour total proteinuria tests were obtained. For various cut-off values of proteinuria in the 24-hour total proteinuria method (Table 1), the corresponding cut-off, AUC, sensitivity, and specificity values of the P/C ratio proteinuria could be determined for the prediction of significant proteinuria which revealed increased sensitivity of spot urine P/C test with an increased protein threshold.
A significant, relatively high correlation was found between protein/creatine ratio and total proteinuria in 24-hour urine (r=0,722; p<0.001). This correlation value was found to be similar to the results of some studies such as r=0,80 in Rodriguez-Thompson and Lieberman; r=0,82 in Kayatas et al., r=0,94 in Robert et al., and r=0,81 in Hossain et al.) (7,13,15,16). In our study, the area under the ROC curve was 0.887 (95% CI: 0.852-0.916) for P/C and 0.874 (95% CI: 0.838-0.905) for 24 hours. Both values are interpreted as good. The P/C value was similar to the results of some studies such as 0,91 in Rodriguez-Thompson and Lieberman, 0.91 in Kucukgoz et al., 0.74 (95% CI: 0.66-0.809) in Kayatas et al., 0.90 (95% CI: 0.834-0.965) in Hossain et al., and showed that this method can be applied successfully among different sample and patient groups (7,12,13,16).
Although the 24-hour urine test has been a reference standard for proteinuria management, a long urine collection period is a major issue and also there are several patient-dependent variables such as diet and water intake affecting the results. Prolonged collection of urine may result in delayed diagnosis and treatment especially an emergency situation in pregnant women where time is limited to make a rapid clinical decision. Possibly prolonged hospital stays and inaccurate results due to incomplete collection are other drawbacks. Thus, a quicker, simpler, and low-cost urinary dipstick analysis is the most commonly used first-step tool for the diagnosis and management of preeclampsia [3,9,12]. The spot protein-to-creatinine ratio is important for the clinicians with decision-making, such as determining a diagnosis or recommending a treatment for a patient.
The accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and methodologic quality of dipstick urinalysis in pregnancy for predicting proteinuria is inadequate and can cause misdiagnosis [5,8,17]. In a previous study, it was reported that 10% of the urine dipstick test results were falsely negative and 51% were falsely positive which may be due to the different reagents used and analytical phases of the technique . Our results, in line with the literature, support the idea that the spot urine P/C test could replace the 24-hour urine collection as being not only a simpler and faster method like dipstick analysis, but also an accurate and reliable diagnostic tool for significant proteinuria in pregnancy [7,10,11]. Furthermore, some study results have shown that the spot urine P/C test has even higher accuracy compared to the reference standard 24-hour urine collection . Contrary to these reports, there are some studies claiming that spot urine P/C test cannot be utilized as an alternative to 24-hour total protein analysis due to problems such as interlaboratory bias and lack of P/C test-specific universally accepted cutoff values [6,8,13]. It should be noted that, we do not claim that the spot urine P/C test should replace the standard 24-hour test. The present study demonstrates that spot urine P/C is an alternative, at least in pregnant women where prompt clinical judgment is required.
Since the sampling and scaling strategies for proteinuria have yet not been universally standardized, clinicians must be aware of different types of urinary proteins, laboratory tools, and urine handling techniques . Even though the alternative methods have not been agreed upon to completely replace 24-hour urine collection analysis, the literature and previous applications such as spot urine P/C test or albumin-to-creatinine test provide an insight into the selection of prediction and evaluation methods for significant proteinuria in high-risk group patients [19,20].
The present study has several limitations which include being a single-center retrospective study and a lack of the comparison of these two methods regarding the severity of the proteinuria in patients with different diagnoses.
ConclusionThe present study findings revealed that there was a strong and significant correlation between the spot urine P/C ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria test results suggesting spot urine P/C ratio as an alternative to the 24-hour total proteinuria test. The spot urine P/C ratio, quicker, simpler, and low-cost urinary dipstick analysis, is important for the clinicians with decision-making, such as determining a diagnosis, recommending a treatment or follow-up when managing these pregnant women, especially as outpatients.
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Prof. Dr. Necati Alp Erilli, Department of Econometrics, Sivas Cumhuriyet University for statistical analysis of this study.
1. Haider MZ, Aslam A. Proteinuria. [Updated 2022 Apr 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564390/
2. Carroll MF, Temte JL. Proteinuria in adults: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician 2000;62:1333–40.
3. Correa ME, Côté AM, De Silva DA, Wang L, Packianathan P, von Dadelszen P, et al. Visual or automated dipstick testing for proteinuria in pregnancy?. Pregnancy Hypertens 2017;7:50–3. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2017.01.005
4. Dong X, Gou W, Li C, Wu M, Han Z, Li X, et al. Proteinuria in preeclampsia: Not essential to diagnosis but related to disease severity and fetal outcomes. Pregnancy Hypertens 2017;8:60–4. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2017.03.005
5. Fishel Bartal M, Lindheimer MD, Sibai BM. Proteinuria during pregnancy: definition, pathophysiology, methodology, and clinical significance. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2022;226:S819-34. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2020.08.108
6. Durnwald C, Mercer B. A prospective comparison of total protein/creatinine ratio versus 24-hour urine protein in women with suspected preeclampsia. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;189:848–52. doi:10.1067/s0002-9378(03)00849-4
7. Rodriguez-Thompson D, Lieberman ES. Use of a random urinary protein-to-creatinine ratio for the diagnosis of significant proteinuria during pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001;185:808–11. doi:10.1067/mob.2001.117349
8. Denhez B, Wang L, Moreau J, Dubé J, Côté AM. Interlaboratory bias of albuminuria and proteinuria in hypertensive pregnancy. Clin Biochem 2021;87:13–8. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2020.10.002
9. Viswanathan G, Upadhyay A. Assessment of proteinuria. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 2011;18:243–8. doi:10.1053/j.ackd.2011.03.002
10. National Kidney Foundation. K/DOQI clinical practice guide-lines for chronic kidney disease: evaluation, classification, and stratification. Am J Kidney Dis 2002;39(2 Suppl. 1): S1e266
11. Pahwa MB, Seth S, Khosla A. Significance of urine protein/creatinine ratio in pregnancy-induced hypertension. Clin Chim Acta 2007;382:145–7. doi:10.1016/j.cca.2007.03.022
12. Kucukgoz Gulec U, Sucu M, Ozgunen FT, Buyukkurt S, Guzel AB, Paydas S. Spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio to predict the magnitude of 24-hour total proteinuria in preeclampsia of varying severity. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2017;39:854–60. doi:10.1016/j.jogc.2017.04.035
13. Kayatas S, Erdogdu E, Cakar E, Yılmazer V, Arınkan SA, Dayıcıoglu VE. Comparison of 24-hour urinary protein and protein-to-creatinine ratio in women with preeclampsia. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2013;170:368–71. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2013.07.024
14. Stefanska K, Marek-Trzonkowska N, Zielinski M, Zamkowska D, Adamski P, Jassem J, et al. Diagnostic accuracy of urinary spot protein: creatinine ratio and another methods for proteinuria in hypertensive pregnant women. Placenta 2019;83:e56.
15. Robert M, Sepandj F, Liston RM, Dooley KC. Random protein-creatinine ratio for the quantitation of proteinuria in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1997;90:893–5. doi:10.1016/s0029-7844(97)00536-x
16. Hossain N, Khan N, Shah N, Shah T, Butt S, Khanani R. Spot urine protein-creatinine ratio and 24-h urine protein excretion: diagnostic accuracy in women with pre-eclampsia. Pregnancy Hypertens 2014;4:87–90. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2013.11.007
17. Waugh JJ, Clark TJ, Divakaran TG, Khan KS, Kilby MD. Accuracy of urinalysis dipstick techniques in predicting significant proteinuria in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2004;103:769–77. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000118311.18958.63
18. Geneen LJ, Webster KE, Reeves T, Eadon H, Maresh M, Fishburn S, et al. Protein-creatinine ratio and albumin-creatinine ratio for the diagnosis of significant proteinuria in pregnant women with hypertension: Systematic review and meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy. Pregnancy Hypertens 2021;25:196–203. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2021.06.013
19. Yang C, Cai GY, Duan ZY, Duan SW, Wang Y, Feng Z, et al. The potential of spot and overnight urine in the evaluating of proteinuria and electrolyte. Urine 2021;3:7-13.doi: 10.1016/j.urine.2021.07.001.
20. Cade TJ, de Crespigny PC, Nguyen T, Cade JR, Umstad MP. Should the spot albumin-to-creatinine ratio replace the spot protein-to-creatinine ratio as the primary screening tool for proteinuria in pregnancy? Pregnancy Hypertens 2015;5:298-302. doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2015.07.00
The receiver operating characteristics curve analysis of the protein-to-creatinine ratio (P/C) proteinuria measurements; cut-off value of the P/C ratio method was calculated as ≥0.443 mg protein/mg creatinine (the area under the curve =0.887 (95% CI: 0.852-0.916; p<0.001); sensitivity was 77.14%, specificity was 87.76%, the negative predictive value was 91.48%, the positive predictive value was 69.23% and accuracy was 84.96%.
The receiver operating characteristics curve analysis of the 24-hour total proteinuria measurements; cut-off value of the protein-to-creatinine ratio method was calculated as >0.405 mg/day mg protein/mg creatinine (the area under the curve =0.874 (95% CI: 0.838-0.905; p<0.001); sensitivity was 82.86%, specificity was 84.64%, the negative predictive value was 93.23%, the positive predictive value was 65.9% and accuracy was 84.17%.
The correlation analysis between the spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio and the 24-hour total proteinuria.
Discriminant spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratios for various proteinuria thresholds.