Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose urinary tract infections include:

  • Analyzing a urine sample. Your doctor may ask for a urine sample for lab analysis to look for white blood cells, red blood cells or bacteria. To avoid potential contamination of the sample, you may be instructed to first wipe your genital area with an antiseptic pad and to collect the urine midstream.
  • Growing urinary tract bacteria in a lab. Lab analysis of the urine is sometimes followed by a urine culture — a test that uses your urine sample to grow bacteria in a lab. This test tells your doctor what bacteria are causing your infection and which medications will be most effective.
  • Creating images of your urinary tract. If your doctor suspects that an abnormality in your urinary tract causes frequent infections, you may have an ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan to create images of your urinary tract. In certain situations, your doctor may also use a contrast dye to highlight structures in your urinary tract. Another test, called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), uses X-rays with contrast dye to create images. Historically, doctors used this test for urinary tract imaging, but it's being replaced more often by ultrasound or CT scan.
  • Using a scope to see inside your bladder. If you have recurrent UTIs, your doctor may perform a cystoscopy, using a long, thin tube with a lens (cystoscope) to see inside your urethra and bladder. The cystoscope is inserted in your urethra and passed through to your bladder.
Aug. 29, 2012

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