A urine test is a simple test to screen or investigate for a range of conditions such as infection, kidney problems, glucose and ketones in your urine (pee).
What are the common urine tests?
Common urine tests include a midstream urine test and a 24-hour urine test.
Midstream urine test
A midstream urine test is used for most urinalysis (testing using urine/pee) and when a culture is needed to look for urinary infections. This means the middle part of the urinary flow is collected into a clean container for testing. Each laboratory will give you instructions of how this needs to be done.
24-hour urine testing
Sometimes it is helpful to have a 24-hour urine test done to help assess whether you have kidney disease or if you are already diagnosed with kidney disease, to see how well it is being managed. With this test, all the urine (pee) produced throughout a 24-hour period is collected into a container provided by your doctor. This is then sent to the lab for analysis.
How is a urine test analysed?
There are several phases to examining a urine test.
- Visual examination. By looking at the colour, clarity (cloudy or clear) and concentration, key information can be learnt.
- Chemical examination. Dip sticks contain small squares of reactants and can test for glucose, ketones, drugs, protein, red blood cells and more.
- Microscopic examination. By looking at the urine under a microscope, you can count the type of cells, look for casts, crystals, bacteria and mucus.
- Culture. If the dip stick test suggests infection is possible, the urine is cultured to see if any bacteria grow.
The first two phases are often completed in a doctor or nurse's office when you present with symptoms of possible urine infection, kidney problems or as part of a routine checkup. If these phases show any positive results, then a sample is sent to the laboratory for culture and/or microscopy.