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.
Picture of urine dipstick and color box instructions
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:
- Routine medical evaluation: general yearly screening, assessment before surgery (preoperative assessment), admission to hospital, screening for kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, etc.
- Assessing particular symptoms: abdominal pain, painful urination, flank pain, fever, blood in the urine, or other urinary symptoms.
- Diagnosing medical conditions: urinary tract infection, kidney infection, kidney stones, uncontrolled diabetes (high blood sugars), kidney impairment, muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), protein in urine, drug screening, and kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis).
- Monitoring disease progression and response to therapy: diabetes related kidney disease, kidney impairment, lupus related kidney disease, blood pressure related kidney disease, kidney infection, protein in urine, blood in urine.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2016