The urinalysis is used as a screening and/or diagnostic tool because it can help detect substances or cellular material in the urine associated with different metabolic and kidney disorders. It is ordered widely and routinely to detect any abnormalities that require follow up. Often, substances such as protein or glucose will begin to appear in the urine before people are aware that they may have a problem. It is used to detect urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other disorders of the urinary tract. In those with acute or chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, the urinalysis may be ordered at intervals as a rapid method to help monitor organ function, status, and response to treatment.


When is it ordered?
A routine urinalysis may be done when someone is admitted to the hospital. It may also be part of a wellness exam, a new pregnancy evaluation, or a work-up for a planned surgery. A urinalysis will most likely be performed when a person sees a health care provider complaining of symptoms of a UTI or other urinary system problem such as kidney disease. Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • This test can also be useful when monitoring certain conditions over time.

What does the test result mean?
Urinalysis results can have many interpretations. Abnormal findings are a warning that something may be wrong and should be evaluated further. Generally, the greater the concentration of the atypical substance, such as greatly increased amounts of glucose, protein, or red blood cells, the more likely it is that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But the results do not tell the doctor exactly what the cause of the finding is or whether it is a temporary or chronic condition.

A normal urinalysis does not guarantee that there is no illness. Some people will not release elevated amounts of a substance early in a disease process, and some will release them sporadically during the day, which means that they may be missed by a single urine sample. In very dilute urine, small quantities of chemicals may be undetectable.

For additional details on what certain results may mean, click on the links below:

  • Visual examination
  • Chemical examination
  • Microscopic examination