What is a urinalysis?

A urinalysis is a urine-screening test. Doctors use it to discover signs of common diseases, medical conditions and other metabolic problems, such as urinary tract infections, liver problems and diabetes.

Urinalysis detects cells, cell fragments, or certain substances, like crystals, protein, or glucose (sugar), in your urine. These substances point to a possible problem, like a urinary tract infection or diabetes. Your doctor may perform additional testing if your urine contains cell fragments or other elements not typically found there. Some of these substances, like glucose, may appear in your urine before you know there is a problem.

Most urine specimens are collected using the “clean catch” method. Sometimes, specimens are collected using urinary catheters. For many people, urinalysis results are available during the same appointment with their doctor.

When is a urinalysis performed?

You may have a urinalysis as part of your yearly wellness examination. The test also can help keep track of illnesses or medical conditions you already have, such as diabetes, kidney or liver disease and some blood diseases.

A urinalysis is also performed if you are admitted to the hospital or if you are scheduled for surgery. For women, urinalysis tests are performed if pregnancy is suspected, or during pregnancy checkups.

Urinalysis can provide answers when you have certain symptoms of disease or injury. It is especially helpful if you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Your doctor may choose to order a urinalysis if you have symptoms such as:

Beyond a urinary tract infection, these symptoms may indicate the presence of more serious problems, such as kidney disease or bladder injury.

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