Urinalysis

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:

MICROSCOPIC APPEARANCE

The urine sample is examined under a microscope to:

CHEMICAL APPEARANCE (urine chemistry)

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

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:

How the Test will Feel

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

Why the Test is Performed

A urinalysis may be done:

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:

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.

What Abnormal Results Mean

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

Your provider can discuss the results with you.

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

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.


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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