Urinalysis is a test that evaluates a sample of your urine. Urinalysis is used to detect and assess a wide range of disorders, including urinary tract infection, kidney disease and diabetes.
Urinalysis involves examining the appearance, concentration and content of urine. Abnormal urinalysis results may point to a disease or illness. For example, a urinary tract infection can make urine look cloudy instead of clear. Increased levels of protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
Abnormal results of a urinalysis often require additional testing and further evaluation to uncover the source of the problem.
Why it's done
Urinalysis is a common test that's done for several reasons:
Other tests, such as pregnancy testing and drug screening, also may require a sample of urine. These tests are separate from urinalysis. They test for substances in the urine that urinalysis typically doesn't include. For example, pregnancy testing measures the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Drug screening tests are tailored to detect specific drugs or their metabolic products, depending on the purpose of the testing.
How you prepare
If your urine is being tested only for urinalysis, you can eat and drink normally before the test. If you are having other tests at the same time, you may need to fast for a certain amount of time before the test. Your doctor will give you specific instructions.
Many drugs, including nonprescription medications and vitamins, can affect the results of a urinalysis. Before a urinalysis, tell your doctor about any medications or vitamins you're taking.
What you can expect
You need to provide a urine sample for urinalysis. Depending on your situation, you may collect the sample at home or at your doctor's office. Your doctor will provide a container for the urine sample. You may be asked to collect the sample first thing in the morning because at that time your urine is more concentrated, and abnormal results may be more obvious.
To obtain the most accurate results, the sample may need to be collected midstream, using a clean-catch method. This method involves the following steps:
In some cases, your doctor may insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through the urinary tract opening and into the bladder to collect the urine sample.
The urine sample is sent to a lab for analysis. You can return to your usual activities immediately.
For urinalysis, your urine sample will be evaluated in three ways.
Urinalysis is not a test that provides a definitive diagnosis. Depending on the reason your doctor recommended this test, abnormal results may or may not require follow-up. Your doctor may need to evaluate the results along with those of other tests, or additional tests may be necessary to determine next steps.
For example, if you are otherwise healthy and have no signs or symptoms of illness, results slightly above normal on a urinalysis may not be a cause for concern and follow-up may not be needed. However, if you've been diagnosed with kidney or urinary tract disease, elevated levels may indicate a need to alter your treatment plan.
For specifics about what your urinalysis results mean, talk to your doctor.
Last Updated: 2011-01-29
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