About the Test
Purpose of the test
The purpose of the fructosamine test is to get an idea of how well your diabetes is being kept under control by estimating your blood glucose levels over the last two to three weeks. Monitoring your blood glucose levels is an important part of managing diabetes and preventing health problems that can be caused by this condition.
There are several tests that can be used to monitor your blood glucose levels. The most widely used test is the hemoglobin A1c test. This test measures the amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, and can show how well glucose levels have been managed over the past two to three months.
A fructosamine test is an alternative to the more common hemoglobin A1c test. This test may be used if you have a condition that makes the hemoglobin A1c test inaccurate or if your doctor wants to track blood glucose over a shorter period of time
The fructosamine test is not used to diagnose diabetes.
What does the test measure?
The fructosamine test measures the amount of glucose attached to proteins in the serum or plasma, which both come from the fluid portion of blood.
Glucose is a sugar that the human body uses as the main source of energy for its cells. The body obtains glucose from the food you eat.
The higher the amount of glucose present in the blood, the more of it will attach to proteins. Albumin is the most abundant protein in blood and the main part of the fructosamine measurement. Proteins are present in the blood for about 14 to 21 days, so the fructosamine test reflects average glucose levels over the previous 2 to 3 weeks.
When should I get a fructosamine test?
The fructosamine test is not widely used in diabetes care. A more common test for glucose control is the hemoglobin A1c test or sometimes glycated albumin.
For some patients the hemoglobin A1c test will be inaccurate, and the fructosamine test may be used as a substitute. Your doctor may order the fructosamine test for you if you have diabetes and one or more of these conditions:
- Hemoglobinopathy, an abnormal form of hemoglobin
- Sickle cell disease
- Recent loss of blood
- Other conditions that affect red blood cell (RBC) count or RBC lifespan
Your doctor may also order a fructosamine test to tell how well your glucose has been controlled over a matter of weeks. Understanding changes in blood glucose over this time may be useful if you’ve had recent changes to your medication, diet, or lifestyle, or if you have become pregnant.
Finding a Fructosamine Test
How to get tested
Your doctor can evaluate your need for a fructosamine test and conduct testing if needed. Your test may be performed in the doctor’s office, or you may be referred to an outside lab or clinic. A fructosamine test can also be performed in a hospital setting.
Can I take the test at home?
No at-home version of the fructosamine test is available at this time. The fructosamine test requires a blood sample taken by a trained health professional and analysis performed by a laboratory.
How much does the test cost?
A number of factors go into the total cost of a fructosamine test. These can include the location where the test is conducted, the type of medical insurance you have, and the percentage of the test’s costs covered under your insurance policy.
Fructosamine testing can involve several different charges, such as the cost of visits to your doctor’s office, fees charged by the health care providers who take your blood sample, and the price of the lab’s analysis. Your insurance provider generally covers these fees if the test is ordered by your doctor. But you may have to pay some portion of the expense yourself in the form of copayments and deductibles.
You can learn more about the expenses related to fructosamine testing from the doctor who orders the test, a representative from your medical insurance provider, or the staff at the laboratory where your test is conducted.
Taking a Fructosamine Test
The fructosamine test requires a sample of blood collected from a vein. The test may be conducted at a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, or laboratory.
Before the test
In general, no special preparations are needed before a fructosamine test. You do not need to fast before taking this test, so you can eat and drink normally.
Talk to your doctor about any medications or supplements you are taking before a fructosamine test.
During the test
The fructosamine test is performed on a sample obtained by drawing blood from a vein, usually from inside the elbow.
To collect the blood sample, a health professional called a phlebotomist cleans the area with an antiseptic wipe to prevent infection. The phlebotomist may also tie a band around the top of your arm to make the vein more prominent. The phlebotomist then draws blood through a small needle inserted in the vein and collects it in an attached test tube.
You may notice a small amount of pain when the needle is inserted or withdrawn. Most often, a blood draw takes less than three minutes.
After the test
After your blood draw is complete, the phlebotomist will put a small bandage over the skin where the needle was inserted. You may be able to take this off after a few minutes, or you may want to keep it on for an hour or longer.
You can generally go about your daily activities normally following your fructosamine test.
Fructosamine Test Results
Receiving test results
Fructosamine test results are usually available within a few business days. You may get your results through the mail or by email, or you may be able to access them online. Your doctor’s office may also call or email you to go over the results or make an appointment to talk about them in person.
Interpreting test results
Fructosamine results are reported in micromoles per liter of blood. This measurement may be represented on your test report as µmol/L, mmol/L, or umol/L.
Your fructosamine level represents your average glucose level during the weeks before the test. Elevated or rising fructosamine levels can mean that your blood glucose is not being adequately managed. If the level has gone down from previous tests, this could demonstrate that your blood glucose is under control or that interventions to control your glucose level are working.
Your test results will include a reference range. The reference range given refers to the expected level of fructosamine for people without diabetes.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about your fructosamine test results and what they mean for you specifically. Your doctor can put your results into context with other tests and can recommend changes to your medication or diet as needed. Your doctor can also discuss other tests you may need, as well as when and how often to repeat the fructosamine test.
Are test results accurate?
In general, the fructosamine test gives an accurate assessment of blood glucose levels over the preceding two to three weeks.
However, several health conditions can affect a fructosamine test result. These include:
- Cirrhosis and other liver diseases
- Certain kidney diseases
- Thyroid disease
- Certain disorders of the intestines
- Plasma cell disorders, such as multiple myeloma
Your doctor will take these factors into account when interpreting your fructosamine test result, as well as any other factors that could impact the accuracy of this test.
Questions for your doctor about test results
When you talk to your doctor about your fructosamine test results, it may be helpful to ask these questions:
- What is my fructosamine test result? Is it within the reference range?
- What do my test results mean for my diabetes?
- How often should I have a fructosamine test?
- Will I need follow-up tests? If so, which ones will I need?
How is the fructosamine test different from the hemoglobin A1c test?
The fructosamine test shows the average level of glucose in the blood over a period of two to three weeks, while the hemoglobin A1c test shows that average for the past two to three months.
These two tests also measure different proteins that glucose binds with: the hemoglobin A1c test measures hemoglobin and the fructosamine test measures total proteins.
How is the fructosamine test different from the glycated albumin test?
The fructosamine test measures all blood proteins, including albumin and other proteins, that glucose binds with. The glycated albumin test specifically measures the amount of glucose bound to albumin, the most abundant blood protein.