Urinalysis (Urine Test)

  • Medical Author:
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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UTI Diagnosis

Urinalysis (Urine Test)

A doctor may simply perform a urine dipstick test in the office. Only a few minutes are needed to obtain results. Your health-care provider may also send a urine sample to the lab for culture testing (see below). These results take a few days to come back. This tells the doctor the exact bacteria causing the infection and to which antibiotics these bacteria have resistance or sensitivity. The culture is usually sent for special populations, including men, because they are less likely to get UTIs. It is not necessary to send a culture for everyone because the majority of UTIs are caused by the same bacteria.

  • The single most important lab test is urinalysis. A urine sample will be tested for signs of infection, such as the presence of white blood cells and bacteria.

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What is a urinalysis?

A urinalysis is simply an analysis of the urine. It is a very common test that can be performed in many health-care settings, including doctors' offices, urgent-care facilities, laboratories, and hospitals.

A urinalysis test is performed by collecting a urine sample from the patient in a specimen cup. Usually only small amounts (30-60 mLs) may be required for urinalysis testing. The sample can be either analyzed in the medical clinic or sent to a laboratory to perform the tests. Urinalysis is abbreviated UA.

UA is in general easily available and relatively inexpensive. It is also a simple test and can provide many useful information about various diseases and conditions. Some physicians refer to urinalysis as "a poor man's kidney biopsy" because of the plethora of information that can be obtained about the health of the kidney or other internal diseases by this simple test.

Urine can be evaluated by its physical appearance (color, cloudiness, odor, clarity), or macroscopic analysis. It can be also analyzed based on its chemical and molecular properties or microscopic assessment.

Urinalysis is ordered by doctors for a number of reasons, including the following:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2016

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