Health Information

Bilirubin - urine

Bilirubin - urine


Conjugated bilirubin - urine; Direct bilirubin - urine

Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid produced by the liver.

This article is about a lab test to measure the amount of bilirubin in the urine. Large amounts of bilirubin in the body can lead to jaundice.

Bilirubin may also be measured with a blood test.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • How the Test is Performed

    This test can be done on any urine sample.

    For an infant, thoroughly wash the area where urine exits the body.

    • Open a urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end).
    • For males, place the entire penis in the bag and attach the adhesive to the skin.
    • For females, place the bag over the labia.
    • Diaper as usual over the secured bag.

    This procedure may take a few tries. An active baby can move the bag causing urine to go into the diaper.

    Check the infant often and change the bag after the infant has urinated into it. Drain the urine from the bag into the container provided by your health care provider.

    Deliver the sample to the laboratory or to your health care provider as soon as possible.

  • How to Prepare for the Test

    Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.

    • Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
    • Do not stop or change your medications without talking to your doctor first.
  • How the Test Will Feel

    The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

  • Why the Test is Performed

    This test may be done to diagnose liver or gallbladder problems.

  • Normal Results

    Bilirubin is not normally found in the urine.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean

    Increased levels of bilirubin in the urine may be due to:

    • Biliary tract disease
    • Cirrhosis
    • Gallstones in the biliary tract
    • Hepatitis
    • Liver disease
    • Tumors of the liver or gallbladder
  • Considerations

    Bilirubin can break down in light. That is why babies with jaundice are sometimes placed under blue fluorescent lamps.

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Berk PD, Korenblat KM. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver test results. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 149.


Review Date: 5/11/2013  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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