A ketone urine test measures the amount of ketones in the urine.
Urine ketones are usually measured as a "spot test." This is available in a test kit that you can buy at a drug store. The kit contains dipsticks coated with chemicals that react with ketone bodies. A dipstick is dipped in the urine sample. A color change indicates the presence of ketones.
This article describes the ketone urine test that involves sending collected urine to a lab.
A clean-catch urine sample is needed. The clean-catch method is used to prevent germs from the penis or vagina from getting into a urine sample. To collect your urine, the health care provider may give you a special clean-catch kit that contains a cleansing solution and sterile wipes. Follow instructions exactly.
You may have to follow a special diet. Your provider may tell you to temporarily stop taking certain medicines that may affect the test.
The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.
Ketone testing is most often done if you have type 1 diabetes and:
Ketone testing may also be done if:
A negative test result is normal.
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.
An abnormal result means you have ketones in your urine. The results are usually listed as small, moderate, or large as follows:
Ketones build up when the body needs to break down fats and fatty acids to use as fuel. This is most likely to occur when the body does not get enough sugar or carbohydrates.
This may be due to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a life-threatening problem that affects people with diabetes. It occurs when the body cannot use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because there is no insulin or not enough insulin. Fat is used for fuel instead.
An abnormal result may also be due to:
There are no risks with this test.
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.