At a glance

Also known as

Urine microscopy

Why get tested?

To look for metabolic and kidney disorders

When to get tested?

On admission to a hospital; preparation for surgery; as part of a medical examination; or when evaluating a new pregnancy. It may be done if you have tummy or back pain, frequent or painful urination, or blood in the urine

Sample required?

Sample of urine (20-50 mls) in a sterile container

What is being tested?

This test identifies and measures the byproducts of normal and abnormal metabolism, which are eliminated from your body in urine.

Urinalysis consists of two distinct testing phases:

  1. chemical examination, which tests chemically for a number of substances that provide valuable information about health and disease; and
  2. microscopic examination, which identifies and counts the type of cells, casts, crystals, and other components (bacteria, mucus ) that can be present in urine.

Today, a routine urinalysis consists of both the chemical and microscopic examinations.

How is the sample collected for testing?

Urine for urinalysis can be collected at any time. The first morning sample is the most valuable because it is more concentrated and more likely to yield abnormal results.

Because of the potential (particularly in women) to contaminate urine with bacteria and cells from the surrounding skin, it is important to first clean the genitalia. Men should wipe the tip of the penis; women should spread the labia of the vagina and clean from front to back.

As you start to urinate, let the urine fall into the toilet, then collect a sample of urine in the container provided.

The Test

How is it used?

Urinalysis is used as a screening and/or diagnostic tool because it can detect different metabolic and kidney disorders. In some conditions, it also provides an easy, economical, and relatively fast test to monitor ongoing patient progress, for example, if you want to know whether a condition is getting better or worse. However, a urinalysis cannot detect all disorders.

When is it requested?

A routine urinalysis may be done when you visit your doctor, when you attend the outpatient clinic or when you are admitted to the hospital. It may also be part of a routine medical examination, a new pregnancy evaluation, or preparation for planned surgery.

A urinalysis will most likely be performed if you see your doctor complaining of tummy pain, back pain, painful or frequent urination, or blood in the urine. This test can also be useful in monitoring whether a condition is getting better or worse.

What does the test result mean?

Urinalysis results can have many interpretations. Normal urinalysis results do not mean there is no illness. Urinalysis is only one screening test that can provide a general overview of a person’s health. Your doctor must correlate the urinalysis results with your health complaints and other information available.

Common Questions

How long does it take to get results for urinalysis?

Urinalysis testing is frequently carried out by dip-stick testing in the clinic and results are readily available. If there is an abnormal finding, such as excessive protein or the presence of blood, it may be necessary to send the sample on to the laboratory for further analysis. This will take a variable amount of time depending on the tests that need to be carried out.

Is the time of day a factor when collecting a urine sample?

Because this is a general screening test, this is usually not important. However, if your doctor is looking for a specific finding, you may be asked to collect a sample at a specific time. For example the presence of glucose is better looked for in a specimen collected after a meal, low levels of protein are better detected in a concentrated specimen collected first thing in the morning.

Are there home test kits available?

Some commercial testing strips can be purchased at a pharmacy to perform part of the chemical examination, such as urine pH, urine glucose, and urine ketones.

Last Review Date: November 4, 2011