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Test Mnemonic:


Specimen Requirements:

25 mL random urine or 25 mL aliquot of a 24-hour urine collection. Protect from light and refrigerate (for up to 24 hours) or freeze (if stored longer than 24 hours).

Test Included:

Urine porphobilinogen and total porphyrins.


Random urine sample with no preservative is preferred. It should be light protected, refrigerated (if stored up to 24 hours) or frozen (if stored for longer than 24 hours). A 24 hour urine collection is an alternative. For collecting a 24 hour urine, obtain a suitable container (dark brown or wrapped in foil for light protection), add 5 grams of sodium carbonate to the container before starting the collection. The container must be refrigerated during and after the collection period. For timing the 24 hour collection: a) choose and record a start/opening time (e.g. 8 AM - the closing time will then be 8 AM the next day), b) open the urine collection at the start/opening time by emptying the bladder and discarding that urine so the bladder is empty at the start of the collection, c) add all urine to the container for the next 24 hours, d) close the collection after exactly 24 hours by voiding and adding that urine to the collection for the last time. After the collection is complete, mix it well, remove an aliquot of at least 25 mL to a light protected container and refrigerate (for up to 24 hours) or freeze at -20 degrees C (if stored for longer than 24 hours).


Urine cup with screw cap protected from light (aluminum foil-wrapped) or 24-hour brown  urine bottle. 

Minimum Volume:

10 mL urine


Refrigerate or freeze urine until transported.  See Shipping Instructions for more details.

Specimen Preparation:

Use dark or aluminum foil-wrapped container to protect from light.  Refrigerate during collection of a 24-hour urine.  Refrigerate or freeze urine after collection. 


Stable when light protected and refrigerated or frozen.

Causes for Rejection:

Samples not protected from light or not refrigerated or frozen will not be rejected, but their condition on arrival will be recorded in the results report. 

Reference Range:

0 - 7 mg/24 hours

Turnaround Time:

Routine; test is performed semiweekly. 


Ion exchange chromatography. 


Samples are received 24 hours per day at Sample Management, 7.412 CSW or from 8 AM - 5 PM, Monday - Friday at Room 3.102, Ewing Hall, 700 Harborside Drive, Galveston, TX 7755-1109; Phone: (409) 772-9103 or 4661.


Porphyria Laboratory


5-Aminolevulinic acid, urine

Clinical Indication:

Along with urine porphobilinogen, screening for acute porphyrias (e.g. AIP).

Patient Preparation :

Not applicable

CPT 4 Code:



Call Porphyrin Laboratory at (409) 772-9103 or 4661 if any questions.

When ordering tests for which Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement will be sought, physicians should only order tests that are medically necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient. Components of the organ or disease panels may be ordered individually. The diagnostic information must substantiate all tests ordered and must be in the form of an ICD-10 code or its verbal equivalent.
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