A healthcare provider may order a urine analysis test for several reasons, such as to check your overall health, to monitor a specific health condition, or to diagnose a medical condition. A urine analysis test involves checking the contents, concentration, and appearance of the urine for any abnormalities. A urine sample is normally evaluated visually, using a dipstick or other lab test, and microscopically.
A urine dipstick test is used in many primary and urgent care clinics to quickly and affordably diagnose everything from urinary tract infections and pregnancy, to drug use. The test uses a plastic strip impregnated with chemicals that change color in the presence of certain substances. For example, a dipstick used to diagnose a urinary tract infection or assess overall health will check for abnormal pH, increased concentration, and the presence of substances ranging from white blood cells and proteins, to glucose and bilirubin. To perform the test, a medical assistant, lab technician, or another provider will simply dip the stick in the urine, wait the designated amount of time, and then compare the colors on the strip to the key on the package or container. Urine spectrometers are also used for this purpose.
Most urine lab tests do not require any special prep or fasting. Depending on your situation, the urine sample may be collected at home, the healthcare provider’s office, or a lab. It is important that you follow your provider’s instructions to ensure the accuracy of the results. The following are the basic steps used for most urine lab tests:
Depending on the circumstances and the type of test required, the sample may be tested at the clinic using a dipstick or sent to a urinalysis lab for more detailed testing.
A full urine analysis looks for substances in the urine indicative of infection or conditions that impact the body’s ability to remove substances from the body through the urine. Complete urine lab tests typically check the following:
A full urine analysis test will also include a microscopic examination for the presence of abnormal cells, crystals, mucus, casts, and bacteria.
When performed correctly, a urine analysis test can accurately identify the presence of various substances in the urine; however, the method in which the sample is collected, stored, and tested can affect the accuracy of the results.
A urine routine microscopy may be ordered to diagnose a urinary tract infection, to evaluate for kidney or metabolic disorders, as part of a routine health checkup, as part of pre-surgical clearance, or to detect infections or diseases during pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider may order a kidney stone analysis if you suffer from frequent kidney stones. The test is used to determine the composition of the stone, which can help determine its cause and guide treatment. The test involves filtering the stone from the urine once it has passed so that it can be sent to a lab for testing.
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