A patient with dysuria (painful voiding) and urinary frequency generally has a spot mid-stream urine sample sent for urinalysis, specifically the presence of nitrites, leukocytes or leukocyte esterase. If there is a high bacterial load without the presence of leukocytes, it is most likely due to contamination. The diagnosis of UTI is confirmed by a urine culture.
If the urine culture is negative:
A negative urine test can also suggest the presence of unusual bacteria or viruses causing symptoms of UTI.
In severe infection, characterized by fever, rigors or flank pain, urea and creatinine measurements may be performed to assess whether renal function has been affected.
Most cases of lower urinary tract infections in females are benign and do not need exhaustive laboratory work-ups. However, UTI in young infants must receive some imaging study, typically a retrograde urethrogram, to ascertain the presence/absence of congenital urinary tract anomalies. Males too must be investigated further. Specific methods of investigation include x-ray, Nuclear Medicine, MRI and CAT scan technology.
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