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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What does urinalysis involve?

Urinalysis is done by collecting a urine sample from a patient. The optimal sample tends to be an early morning urine sample because it is frequently the most concentrated urine produced in the day. Typically, no fasting is required before the collection of urine sample and routine medications can be taken before the test, unless otherwise instructed by the ordering physician.

Methods of collection are slightly different for female and male patient.

  • For females, the patient is asked to clean the area around the urethra with a special cleansing wipe, by spreading the labia of the external genitals and cleaning from front to back (toward the anus).
  • For men, the tip of the penis may be wiped with a cleansing pad prior to collection.
  • The urine is then collected in a clean urine specimen cup while the patient is urinating. It is best to avoid collecting the initial stream of urine. After the initial part of urine is disposed of in the toilet, then the urine is collected in the urine container provided. Once about 30 to 60 ml (roughly 3 to 5 tablespoons) are collected in the container for testing, the remainder of the urine may be voided in the toilet again. This is called the clean catch or the midstream urine collection.

The collected urine sample should be taken to the laboratory for analysis, typically within one hour of collection. If transportation to the lab could take more than one hour, then the sample may be refrigerated.

In some patients who are unable to void spontaneously or those who are not able to follow instructions other methods may be used, such as placing a catheter (a small rubber tube) through the outside opening to the bladder (urethra) to collect the sample directly from the bladder.

What is macroscopic urinalysis?

Macroscopic urinalysis is the direct visual observation of the urine, noting its quantity, color, clarity or cloudiness, etc.

Normal urine is typically light yellow and clear without any cloudiness. Obvious abnormalities in the color, clarity, and cloudiness may suggest possibility of:

Certain medications may also change the color of urine. Very foamy urine may represent large amounts of protein in the urine (proteinuria).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2016

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