Urine Tests

Basic Facts

  • Urinalysis, the most common of urine tests, is the analysis of a sample of urine for screening and diagnosing disease.
  • Morning urine, which is more concentrated and less affected by diet and physical activity than urine passed later in the day, is the most valuable for diagnosis.
  • To avoid any risk of bacterial contamination, urine is best collected in a sterile container at a medical office or hospital rather than at home. If it is not processed immediately, it should be refrigerated.

A urine test is the collection of a patient’s urine to be examined for indicators of disease or illness. Most urine tests are performed to:

  • Screen for, diagnose, or monitor renal (kidney) or urinary tract disease; or
  • Detect metabolic or systemic diseases not related to the kidneys, such as diabetes mellitus.


The patients should inform the physician about any medication he or she may be taking. The physician may instruct the patient to discontinue medications that could affect the outcome of the results.

The patient should also avoid the following the night before the test:

  • Foods that discolor urine (blackberries, beets, or other red foods);
  • Certain over-the-counter medications that can discolor urine (phenazopridine); and
  • Alcohol.


To collect the urine, female patients receive a sterile container and a sponge treated with antiseptic. Patients are instructed to wash and dry their hands thoroughly. Women should spread the labia and cleanse the area around the urethra with the antiseptic sponge. Men retract the foreskin, if present, and clean the tip of the penis before obtaining a sample. Patients urinate into the container and replace the cap, taking care not to touch the inside of the container or cap with their hands. It is recommended that the patient release a small amount of urine into the toilet before urinating into the container to wash out the urethral contents. This is known as a mid-stream collection.

The other method of collecting urine is with a catheter (a thin flexible tube) or a Cystoscope inserted into the urethra. The movement of a saline solution through the bladder helps loosen the cells on the inner lining of the urinary tract.

After the urine is collected, it is usually examined within 15 minutes in a procedure known as dipstick testing or through a laboratory microscope. This examination of the urine is known as urinalysis.

Over-the-counter preparations called azo dye metabolites and bilirubin can yield a false result by turning the indicators a deep yellow orange color.


Patients can resume normal activities immediately following the test.

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