The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Urinalysis
Harvard Health Publications
Order the Book
Contact Us

Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter, HEALTHbeat.  
Email Address:
First Name (optional):
Special Health Information Reports
Weight Loss
Prostate Disease
Vitamins and Minerals
Aching Hands
See All Titles
Browse Health Information
Common Medical Conditions
Wellness & Prevention
Emotional Well Being & Mental Health
Women’s Health
Men’s Health
Heart & Circulatory Health
About the Book
New Information
About the Team
Order the Book
Return to the Family Health Guide Home Page
  Harvard Health Publications
contact us

What happens when the test is performed?

  • For a regular urinalysis, your urine is tested both chemically and by microscopic exam. Chemical examination uses a "dipstick" to reveal the pH (acidity) and concentration of your urine, while simultaneously testing for several chemicals at once. Some chemicals indicate that blood in general and white blood cells in particular might be present, a sign of a urinary infection, kidney stones, or other problems. Nitrite, a chemical produced by most bacteria, suggests a bacterial infection. Sugar in the urine is a sign of diabetes (high blood sugar), while chemicals known as ketones can indicate a diabetic complication. Protein in the urine can indicate kidney disease or impaired kidney function.

    A microscopic examination is done after the urine is spun inside a tube in a centrifuge. This concentrates the solid particles at the bottom of the tube, so they can be studied more easily.Microscopic examination can show red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, crystals, skin cells that might have contaminated the sample, and, rarely, parasites in your urine. In some cases, the way the cells look offers your doctor clues about whether they entered your urine from the bladder or the kidney.

Would you like to:

©2000–2006 President & Fellows of Harvard College

Sign Up Now For
Our FREE E-mail Newsletter

In each weekly issue of HEALTHbeat:

  • Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School
  • Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health
  • Plus, receive your FREE Bonus Report, Living to 100: What's the secret?

[ Maybe Later ] [ No Thanks ]