How are urinary tract infections diagnosed?

Your doctor will use the following tests to diagnose a urinary tract infection:

  • Urinalysis to examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria (The number of white and red blood cells can indicate an infection.)
  • Urine culture to determine the type of bacteria in the urine. This is important to help determine the appropriate treatment.

If your infection does not respond to treatment or if you get repeated infections, your doctor may use the following tests to examine your urinary tract for disease or injury:

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), a series of X-rays of the bladder, kidneys and ureters after a special dye is injected (The dye helps the structures to show up better on the X-ray.)
  • Ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to form images of internal organs
  • Cystoscopy, a test that uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source (cystoscope) to see inside the bladder from the urethra
  • CT scan, a type of X-ray that takes cross sections of the body (like slices) – much more precise than typical X-rays