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24-hour urine copper test

The 24-hour urine copper test measures the amount of copper in a urine sample.

Alternative Names

Quantitative urinary copper

How the test is performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet when you get up in the morning.
  • Afterwards, collect all urine in a special container for the next 24 hours.
  • On day 2, urinate into the container when you get up in the morning.

Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period.

Write your name, date, and time you completed the test on the container.

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 boys, place the entire penis in the bag and attach the adhesive to the skin. For girls, place the bag over the labia. Diaper as usual over the secured bag.

This procedure may take a couple of attempts. Lively infants can move the bag, causing the urine to be absorbed by the diaper. Check the infant frequently 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.

Return the bag or container as instructed.

A laboratory specialist will determine how much copper is in the sample.

How to prepare for the test

No special preparation is necessary for this test, but if the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary.

How the test will feel

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

Why the test is performed

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of Wilson's disease , a genetic disorder that affects how the body processes copper.

Normal Values

The normal range is 10 to 30 micrograms per 24 hours.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

An abnormal result means you have a higher than normal level of copper. This may be due to:

  • Biliary cirrhosis
  • Chronic active hepatitis
  • Wilson's disease

What the risks are

There are no risks associated with providing a urine sample.

Updated: 1/4/2013

Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.


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