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Urinalysis (Urine Tests)

What is a urinalysis?

Urinalysis is a test of your urine. It checks for infection and substances in the urine that indicate kidney or other diseases.

Why is this test done?

This test may be done to look for signs of diseases of the urinary tract (kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that connect them). It can also help your healthcare provider check for diseases that affect not only your urinary tract but other parts of your body as well. For example, diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and some autoimmune diseases can damage the kidneys. A urinalysis can detect sugar in the urine, which is a sign of diabetes. It can detect protein or blood in the urine, which may be signs of a kidney problem.

How do I prepare for this test?

  • Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Do not stop any of your regular medicines without first talking to your healthcare provider about it.

How is the test done?

There are 2 methods for collecting a urine specimen: the clean-catch method and the catheterization method.

  • For the clean-catch method, you clean your genital area, start urinating, and then catch some of the urine in a cup.
  • The catheterization method may be used if you have trouble with the clean-catch method or if a sample is needed from an infant or young child. Your healthcare provider cleans the genital area and then passes a thin flexible tube into the urethra and up to the bladder to collect a sample of urine.

The urine is sent to the lab and tested for blood, sugar, protein, and signs of infection or illness. The urine is also examined under a microscope to look for crystals, blood cells, and bacteria. If your healthcare provider thinks you may have an infection, the urine is cultured to see if any (and what kind of) bacteria grow from the urine.

How will I get the test result?

Ask your health care provider when and how you will get the result of your test.

What does the test result mean?

The results of the 3 tests (the chemical test strip, the microscopic exam, and the urine culture) can show the presence of diseases of the urinary tract (kidneys or bladder). These tests help check for problems such as bladder or kidney infections, cancers, autoimmune diseases (nephritis and nephropathies), and kidney stones. They can also provide evidence of other diseases, such as diabetes.

What if my test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and ask questions.

If your test results are not normal, ask your healthcare provider:

  • if you need additional tests
  • what you can do to work toward a normal value
  • when you need to be tested again.
Written by Tom Richards, MD.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-09-10
Last reviewed: 2009-06-09
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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