Urinalysis

Urine appearance and color; Routine urine test; Cystitis - urinalysis; Bladder infection - urinalysis; UTI - urinalysis; Urinary tract infection - urinalysis; Hematuria - urinalysis

Considerations

If a home test is used, the person reading the results must be able to tell the difference between colors, because the results are interpreted using a color chart.

Definition

Urinalysis is the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds that pass through the urine.

How the Test is Performed

A urine sample is needed. Your health care provider will tell you what type of urine sample is needed. Two common methods of collecting urine are 24-hour urine collection and clean catch urine specimen.

The sample is sent to a lab, where it is examined for the following:

PHYSICAL COLOR AND APPEARANCE

How the urine sample looks to the naked eye:

  • Is it clear or cloudy?
  • Is it is pale, or dark yellow, or another color?

MICROSCOPIC APPEARANCE

The urine sample is examined under a microscope to:

  • Check if there are any cells, urine crystals, urinary casts, mucus, and other substances.
  • Identify any bacteria or other germs.

CHEMICAL APPEARANCE (urine chemistry)

  • A special strip (dipstick) is used to test for substances in the urine sample. The strip has pads of chemicals that change color when they come in contact with substances of interest.

Examples of specific urinalysis tests that may be done to check for problems include:

How the Test will Feel

The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

How to Prepare for the Test

Certain medicines change the color of urine, but this is not a sign of disease. Your provider may tell you to stop taking any medicines that can affect test results.

Medicines that can change your urine color include:

  • Chloroquine
  • Iron supplements
  • Levodopa
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Phenazopyridine
  • Phenothiazine
  • Phenytoin
  • Riboflavin
  • Triamterene
Normal Results

Normal urine varies in color from almost colorless to dark yellow. Some foods, such as beets and blackberries, may turn urine red.

Usually, glucose, ketones, protein, and bilirubin are not detectable in urine. The following are not normally found in urine:

  • Hemoglobin
  • Nitrites
  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean you have an illness, such as:

Your provider can discuss the results with you.

Why the Test is Performed

A urinalysis may be done:

  • As part of a routine medical exam to screen for early signs of disease
  • If you have signs of diabetes or kidney disease, or to monitor you if you are being treated for these conditions
  • To check for blood in the urine
  • To diagnose a urinary tract infection
References / Related Articles
Acute nephritic syndrome
Acute tubular necrosis
Alkalosis
Alport syndrome
Analgesic nephropathy
Anorexia
Atheroembolic renal disease
Autosomal dominant tubulointerstitial kidney disease
Bladder stones
Chronic kidney disease
Congenital nephrotic syndrome
Cystinuria
Delirium
Dementia
Dementia due to metabolic causes
Diabetes
Diabetes and kidney disease
Diabetes insipidus - central
Distal renal tubular acidosis
Epididymitis
Failure to thrive
Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
Goodpasture syndrome
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
Heart failure - overview
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome
Henoch-Schönlein purpura
IgA nephropathy
Injury - kidney and ureter
Interstitial nephritis
Lupus nephritis
Malignant hypertension
Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis
Membranous nephropathy
Myelomeningocele
Necrotizing vasculitis
Nephrotic syndrome
Orchitis
Ovarian cancer
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)
Polycystic kidney disease
Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (GN)
Prerenal azotemia
Primary amyloidosis
Prostate cancer
Prostatitis - bacterial
Protein in diet
Proximal renal tubular acidosis
Reflux nephropathy
Renal papillary necrosis
Renal vein thrombosis
Retrograde ejaculation
Rhabdomyolysis
Scleroderma
Secondary systemic amyloidosis
Stress urinary incontinence
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Traumatic injury of the bladder and urethra
Type 1 diabetes
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Urethral stricture
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Urge incontinence
Urinary tract infection - children
Urine - bloody
Vitamin C
Wilms tumor

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Urinalysis (UA) - urine. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:1146-1148.

Riley RS, McPherson RA. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 28.

Review Date: 1/26/2017
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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