Urinalysis (Urine Test)
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.
- What is a urinalysis?
- What can urinalysis results show?
- Who is involved in the interpretation of urinalysis?
- What types of doctors perform urinalysis?
- What does urinalysis involve?
- What is macroscopic urinalysis?
- What is urine dipstick chemical analysis?
- What are the pros and cons of dip sticks?
- What is microscopic urinalysis?
- How is microscopic urinalysis done?
- What kind of cells can be detected?
- What can the presence of red blood cells in the urine mean?
- What can the presence of white blood cells in the urine mean?
- Other than urinalysis, what are other common urine tests available?
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, hospitals, and even at home.
A urinalysis test is performed by collecting a urine sample from the patient in a specimen cup. Usually only small amounts (30-60 mL) 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), also referred to as a macroscopic analysis. It can be also analyzed based on its chemical and molecular properties, including 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 infections, 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.
- Pregnancy testing
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