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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.

Alternative Names

Urine appearance and color; Routine urine test

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:

The urine specific gravity test reveals how concentrated or dilute the urine is.

Microscopic appearance:

Chemical appearance (urine chemistry):

How to Prepare for the Test

Certain medicines change the color of urine, but this is not a sign of disease. Your health care 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:

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

Normal Results

Normal urine may vary in color from almost colorless to dark yellow. Some foods (like beets and blackberries) may turn the urine a red color.

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. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean you have an illness. Your health care provider will discuss the results with you.

Risks

There are no risks.

Considerations

If a home test is used, the person reading the results must be able to tell the difference between different colors, since the results are interpreted using a color chart.

References

McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.


Review Date: 1/22/2013
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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