At a glance

Also known as

Urine microscopy

Why get tested?

Urinalysis is used 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 stomach 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, that 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.

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 test that can detect a number of different metabolic and kidney disorders. In some conditions, it also provides an easy, economical, and relatively fast test to monitor ongoing progress when 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, attend an outpatient clinic or when you are admitted to hospital. It can also be part of a routine medical examination, a new pregnancy evaluation or preparation for a surgical procedure. It will most likely be performed if you see your doctor complaining of stomach 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. Having normal urinalysis results does not necessarily mean there is no illness. Urinalysis is only one screening test that can provide a general overview of someone's health. Your doctor must correlate the urinalysis results with your symptoms and overall health.

Common Questions

How long does it take to get results for urinalysis?

Urinalysis testing is often carried out by dip-stick testing in the doctor's rooms or clinic and results are instantly 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 to be carried out.

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

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

Are 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: February 10, 2020

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