Urinalysis Interpretation: Information on Urinalysis Values
written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 5/4/2010
Urinalysis interpretation can only be done if you understand urinalysis values and how they impact your results. Learn about the many factors that affect a doctor's interpretation of your urinalysis test.
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There are many laboratory tests that help doctors diagnose and monitor medical conditions. Among these laboratory tests is the urinalysis, which helps doctors to determine what is going on in the body and how it is affecting a patient. When you receive your urinalysis results, you may be confused about some of the urinalysis values that appear in the report. In order to better understand these urinalysis values, information on urinalysis interpretation can be very helpful.
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One of the urinalysis values that is noted on a lab report is the color of the patient's urine. Normal urine is yellow, with concentration increasing the more yellow a sanple is. Some medications can cause a change in urine color, which can alter the urinalysis values and change the way urinalysis interpretation is done by a physician or other medical professional.
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Urine should be very clear in order to be considered normal. Cloudy urine or urine with a high level of sediment may be present in cases of urinary tract infection. People who have had bladder surgery may also have cloudy urine due to colonization of bacteria within the bladder. Doctors rely on these urinalysis values to diagnose infections and other urinary problems.
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The pH of urine is another one of the urinalysis values that can help doctors determine if a medical problem exists. Normal urine pH ranges from 5.0 to 9.0. Any urinalysis values outside of that range can indicate a problem with acidity or alkalinity. If the PH level of the urine is low, the urinalysis values for nitrates can be affected. Low pH can lead to a false negative for nitrites, which means that nitrites won't show up on the urinalysis even if they are present.
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Nitrite levels are also tested with the urinalysis. These values can be elevated when bacteria are found in the urinary tract. However, urinalysis results for nitrites can be affected by many issues. False negatives can be caused by other infections, lack of available nitrates, and a quick conversion of nitrites to nitrogen. As mentioned above, low pH can also cause a false negative.
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Protein is one of the many urinalysis values that can help doctors determine if there is a problem with the kidneys or the bladder. When the kidneys are damaged, many substances can leak from the kidneys into the urine. Since proteins are made of very large molecules, the presence of protein the urine can indicate advancing kidney problems. Elevated protein levels can also indicate that a person has eaten a lot of meat recently or that they have a urinary tract infection.
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If your urinalysis results indicate that there are casts in the urine, this can indicate several issues. Casts appear when cells collect in the distal tubules and become concretions. The color of the casts can help doctors determine what problem exists. Red casts indicate nephritic syndrome, white casts indicate kidney infection, and muddy brown casts can indicate renal failure.
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Emergency Clinical Guide. Urinalysis. Retrieved March 31, 2009.