What It Is
An automated dipstick urinalysis is often done as part of an overall urinalysis, but it can also be done on its own, depending on the doctor's concerns. Once a urine sample is collected, a nurse or technician will place a specially treated chemical strip (dipstick) into it. Patches on the dipstick will change color to indicate the presence of such things as white blood cells, protein, or glucose.
The dipstick is then placed into a machine that uses beams of light to analyze the color changes. A machine reading provides more detailed information than a manual reading.
Why It's Done
The results of an automated dipstick urinalysis may point to diagnoses such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or injury, kidney disease, or diabetes. If test results are abnormal, other tests may be needed before a definite diagnosis can be made.
No preparation other than cleansing the area around the urethra (urinary opening) is required for the automated dipstick urinalysis.
Your child will be asked to urinate into a clean sample cup in the doctor's office, lab, or hospital.
The skin surrounding the urinary opening has to be cleansed just before the urine is collected. In this "clean-catch" method, you or your child cleanses the skin around the urinary opening with a special towelette. The child then urinates, stops momentarily, and then urinates again into the collection container. Catching the urine in "midstream" is the goal. Be sure to wash your hands and your child's afterwards.
If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a small soft plastic tube (catheter) may need to be inserted into the bladder to obtain the urine specimen.
The technician or nurse then will place a dipstick into the urine sample and put the dipstick into an automated reader.
Collecting the urine should only take a few minutes. If your daughter is having her period at the time of the test, let the doctor know.
What to Expect
Because the test involves normal urination, there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen. It's important to keep the area around the urinary opening clean before the test and to catch the urine sample midstream.
Getting the Results
The results of the automated dipstick urinalysis are usually available within an hour, and your doctor will review them with you. If abnormalities are found, further urine tests may be needed.
No risks are associated with taking an automated dipstick urinalysis.
Helping Your Child
The automated dipstick urinalysis is painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted and why it's being done can help ease any fear. Make sure your child understands that the urinary opening must be clean and the urine must be collected midstream.
If You Have Questions
If you have questions about the automated dipstick urinalysis, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: March 2009
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