UTIs or Urine infections often present no symptoms. Hence, a urine infection test often becomes necessary to rule out possibilities. A healthcare provider can determine if you or your child has a urine infection, using some of the methods discussed below.
Urine infection test
The doctor/healthcare provider will ask you to collect a sample of the urine. In case of UTI in small children (who are not yet potty trained), a small plastic bag might be placed on the genital area. The bag will be removed as soon as the child has urinated.
- The urine sample will be tested immediately in order to prevent contamination.
- In some cases, especially in very small infants, catheters may be inserted directly into the child’s bladder to collect the urine sample for testing.
- The urine is then directly examined under a microscope. In case of infection, the urine infection test will show presence of pus or bacteria in the sample.
- The remaining urine might be sent for taking a culture test. This test helps reveal the exact type of bacterium present in the urine.
- In the culture test, the urine sample is placed in a Petri dish in a controlled environment that encourages the bacteria to grow. This typically takes 1 to 3 days.
- Once the bacteria have grown, they can be easily identified.
- This urine infection test helps the health care provider recommend the right antibiotic to curb the urine infection.
In case of recurrent urine infections, the healthcare provider might also do a sensitivity test. This helps him/her determine which antibiotic the bacteria are most sensitive to. That way, the right medicine can be prescribed to the patient.
In most cases, after taking a few doses of antibiotics, the patient will start to feel better within a few days and the symptoms of UTI will go away. However, it is important to complete the full antibiotic course and not stop in the middle, as that can bring back the infection.
Urine infection test after the UTI has cleared
Sometimes, doctors might recommend detailed urine infection testing even after the UTI has cleared. This is especially done in case of recurrent UTIs or other serious infections involving the kidneys.
- Ultrasound Test– This urine infection test makes use of a transducer that bounces safe signals off the organs being tested, in this case the bladder and kidneys. The return ‘pings’ bring back images on to a computer which are checked by a radiologist for abnormalities, if any, in the kidneys.
- Voiding cystourethrogram– This is an X-ray based urine infection test conducted when the bladder is filled with a special dye that makes it clear for the organs to be seen. The test is first conducted on full bladder and later when the patient is urinating. This voiding test helps show the insides of the urethra and bladder clearly and, when the patient is urinating, whether the urine flow is normal.
- CT Scan– The CT or the Computerized Tomography scan test uses a combination of x-ray and computer technology to take a 3- dimensional image of the organs involved in UTIs. It helps get a clearer image of the excretory system to show abnormalities if any.
- MRI or magnetic resonance imaging– Using a combination of magnets and radio waves, this urine infection test helps doctors see the insides more clearly, without making use of x-rays.
Apart from these tests, doctors also use visual inspections to rule out abnormalities and for other important clinical findings. For example, palpation of the abdomen can reveal a mass that may be obstructing normal flow of urine. Likewise, a visual inspection of genital areas in boys or checking for the presence of labial adhesions in girls are some other routine urine infection tests that doctors conduct to understand why UTIs are recurring. Urodynamic testing and Radionuclide scans are few other urine infection test routines conducted to study how the urethra, sphincter and bladder are performing the task of storing and releasing urine.