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Urine Dipstick Test- Indications, Procedure and Results

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A urine dipstick test is a urinalysis using a special strip of paper. This article reviews the urine dipstick test, its procedure, and its results.

Published At April 4, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 4, 2023

What Is Urine Dipstick Test?

A urine dipstick test is the fastest way to test urine. The procedure involves dipping a specially treated paper strip into a sample of urine. The results are generally obtainable within 60 to 120 seconds. The sample does not require to be sent to a laboratory for a urine dipstick test, although if the test is abnormal, it might need to do another sample to be sent for further testing in a laboratory. The test is also called a rapid urine test. Urine is normally sterile, which means it is totally free of germs (bacteria) and only has in it waste products from all of the millions of chemical reactions in the body all of the time. But in some situations, chemicals that should not usually be there get through the filtering systems in the kidneys and get into the urine. This is where urine dipstick testing is done.

When Is a Urine Dipstick Test Done?

A urinalysis is a simple urine test to diagnose various disorders that include -

  • To Diagnose a Medical Condition - A urinalysis might be requested if there is back pain, abdominal pain, frequent or painful urination, blood in the urine (hematuria), or other urinary conditions. A urine test helps to diagnose the cause of these symptoms.

  • To Check Overall Health - A urinalysis can be part of a routine medical examination, pregnancy checkup, or pre-surgery preparation. Or it might be used to rule out a variety of disorders, such as kidney disease, diabetes, or liver disease, when the associated symptoms are present.

  • To Monitor a Medical Condition - If a patient is diagnosed with medical problems, such as urinary tract infection or kidney disease, the physician can recommend testing the urine regularly to monitor the condition and treatment.

Other tests, such as drug screenings, and pregnancy screening, depend on urinalysis too.

What Is the Procedure for a Urine Dipstick Test?

To undergo a urine dipstick test, the medical professional needs a sample of the urine. This needs to be put in a sterile container. Sterile implies it has no living germs (bacteria) in it. The urine is collected in a sterile container.

To get the sample, the patient needs to urinate into the container provided. Ideally, they should not urinate somewhere else and then transmit it to the special pot, as then it will not be sterile anymore. The best selection is one which is called a midstream specimen of urine. This means when the patient starts to urinate, the container is brought into the urine stream and removed from there once there is enough urine in it. The urination need not be stopped while doing this. Tightly put the cap on the pot, then wash the hands.

The doctor will use a urine testing strip to test the urine. There are various types of urine testing strips that test for the presence of various substances in the urine. The strip has squares on it that change color in the presence of specific substances. The strip is then compared to a chart on the side of the urine testing strip box. Usually, the more intense the color change, the more of the substance there is in the urine.

The doctor or nurse may look over the dipstick result. However, sometimes the patient might be asked to watch the urine at home. Some urine dipsticks test for one or two of the abnormalities. Others test for many of these substances. To read the dipstick, the following method is followed:

  • Have a urine sample in a pot as explained above.

  • Dip the stick into the urine sample, and make sure all the test zones on the stick are immersed.

  • Remove the stick, tap to remove extra urine, and hold it horizontally so urine does not leak.

  • Review on the label of the dipstick bottle how long it is required to wait (the period of time varies for the different tests, usually from 30 seconds to 2 minutes).

  • After the appropriate time, hold the dipstick against the color chart on the dipstick bottle and match it.

  • Each test will be color-coded, and there are various shades of that color. A darker shade on the dipstick indicates that there is more of the appropriate substance like blood, glucose, etc. in the urine.

  • Record the result with the matching color on the tag, this may be given in the form of '+' signs or numbers.

What Do the Test Results of the Urine Dipstick Test Indicate?

There are three ways to investigate urine, and the test might use all of them. One is a visual examination, which reviews color and clarity. If the urine contains blood in it, it may be red or dark brown. Foamy urine can be a sign of kidney disease, while cloudy urine may indicate an infection. Secondly, a microscopic examination of urine checks for the presence of substances that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some of the substances that should not be in the urine normally that a microscopic examination include -

  • White blood cells (WBCs).

  • Red blood cells (RBCs).

  • Bacteria.

  • Crystals (substances forming a kidney stone).

The third part of the urine test is the dipstick test, which uses a thin plastic strip treated with chemicals. It is dipped into the urine, and the chemicals on the stick react and change color if the levels are abnormal. The conditions a dipstick test can check for include:

  • If the urine contains acid it is abnormal, it indicates that there is a presence of kidney stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or another condition.

  • The presence of protein in the urine indicates that the kidneys are not working well. Kidneys filter waste products from the blood and form the urine.

  • High sugar content in the urine is a marker for diabetes.

  • White blood cells are a sign of infection or inflammation, either in the kidneys or anywhere else along the urinary tract.

  • The presence of nitrites means that there is an infection with certain kinds of bacteria.

  • If bilirubin (a waste product), which is normally eliminated by the liver, is present, it means the liver is not working properly.

  • Hematuria (blood in urine) sometimes is a sign of infections or certain illnesses.


A urine dipstick test is usually done as part of a urinalysis, but it also can be done alone, depending on the physician’s concerns. Once a urine sample is gathered, a nurse or technician will place a specially treated chemical strip (dipstick) into the urine (pee). Patches on the dipstick will change color to suggest the existence of such things as white cells, protein, or glucose. The results of a urine dipstick test may suggest a urinary tract infection (UTI), diabetes, kidney disease, or a urinary tract injury. If test results are abnormal, additional tests will be required before a definite diagnosis can be made.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Use a Dipstick HCG Urine Test?

The test dipstick is placed in a urine sample for the assay, which involves watching for the appearance of colored lines. By means of capillary action, the specimen moves down the membrane and reacts with the colored conjugate.


What Is the Dipstick Test's Finding for a Patient With Frequent Urination?

For a patient who urinates frequently, a dipstick test may reveal anomalies such as high glucose levels, which may indicate diabetes; the presence of blood, which may indicate kidney difficulties or infections; or higher protein levels, which may indicate kidney issues. The dipstick test should be followed up with additional medical testing because it cannot make a final diagnosis on its own.


What Can Be Found in a Urine Dipstick Test?

When doctors suspect issues like urinary tract infections (UTIs), renal disease, diabetes, or a urinary tract injury, the results of a urine dipstick test can be helpful. Before a definitive diagnosis may be made, more testing is typically required.


What Does URO Mean on a Blood Test Using a Urine Dipstick?

Uro on a blood test means the presence of urobilinogen. Urobilinogen is commonly found in urine. A liver condition like cirrhosis or hepatitis, as well as some anemias, may also be indicated by an excessive amount of urobilinogen in the urine.


What Is the Meaning of Urine Protein TR?

Typically, "Urine Protein TR" refers to "Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio." It is a diagnostic test for determining proteinuria, or the presence of abnormally high levels of protein in the urine, as well as kidney function. This ratio aids medical professionals in determining whether kidney injury or disease, such as both, may be present.


How Can Protein in Urine Test Strips Be Read?

Follow these steps to read urine test strips for protein:
- Urine Collection: Start by taking a fresh urine sample in a sterile container.
- Dip Strip: Submerge the test strip for the allotted amount of time in the urine sample. It usually just lasts a few seconds.
- Compare Colors: After removing the strip, give the colors time to change before comparing them. Compare the test pad's color to the color chart on the test strip box to determine the protein level. Blue denotes positive, and green is negative. Orange denotes a pH result of 6-6.5, green a result of 7-7.5, and blue/green a result of 8-8.5.


How Many Trace Proteins Are in Urine?

The lowest level of proteinuria that can be detected on a urine dipstick test is often referred to as trace proteins in urine. The urine can contain a small quantity of protein, which is usually regarded as being within the normal range. However, even minute levels of protein might occasionally point to a deeper problem, so it is crucial to discuss the findings with a medical professional for accurate assessment and interpretation.


How Are Trace Proteins in Urine Handled?

When trace proteins are found in urine, it may indicate a problem with renal filtration or other underlying medical issues. The majority of the time, medical professionals take a methodical approach to handling this condition. They begin by evaluating the patient's health overall, symptoms, and medical history. In order to precisely measure the amount of protein excretion, additional tests, such as a 24-hour urine collection or a spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio, may be carried out if trace proteinuria continues.


What Urine Dipstick Tests for Acetone Can Be Used?

Acetone is commonly found in pee dipstick tests using the "ketones" test pad. In the presence of ketone substances, such as acetone, this test pad changes color, which may signal ketosis or diabetic ketoacidosis. To use the test pad correctly and understand the color change on the pad, one must adhere to the manufacturer's instructions. In particular, for people with diabetes or those on particular diets, it is advised to speak with a healthcare expert for further assessment and advice if the test results are positive for ketones.


What Sets Microscopic Urinalysis Apart From Dipstick Urinalysis?

Dipstick urinalysis is a simple, affordable, and low-skill screening technique. The microscopic analysis of urine samples for white cells takes much longer and requires more work than a dipstick urinalysis. It can, however, be utilized to provide results in a primary care context, unlike urine culture.


Which Bacteria Are Responsible for Inaccurate Nitrite Urine Dipstick Test Results?

Negative urine dipstick test findings for nitrite could indicate the lack of specific bacteria that turn urinary nitrate into nitrite since there is no detectable nitrite in the urine. Some bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), including some strains of Escherichia coli, Enterococcus species, and Staphylococcus species, may not create enough nitrite to result in a positive test because of this; negative nitrite readings should be interpreted in conjunction with other clinical and laboratory data for an appropriate diagnosis.


For a Dipstick Urine Test, How Much Urine Is Necessary?

For a dipstick urine test, often only 10 to 15 milliliters of urine are required. Typically, this amount is taken in the middle to guarantee a representative sample. Before taking the sample, it is crucial to practice good hygiene to avoid contamination. After the advised amount of time has passed, the collected urine is applied to the specified region on the dipstick, and the results are read in accordance with color changes on the test pads.


What Are the Drawbacks of a Reagent Strip Test or Urine Dipstick?

Although urine dipstick tests are rapid and easy, they do have certain drawbacks. First off, since some foods, drugs, and vitamins can alter the color of the strips, they can result in false-positive or false-negative findings. Furthermore, dipstick testing might not be as precise as lab-based tests in identifying certain conditions or determining particular levels. Additionally, they do not offer specific information regarding the precise level of chemical concentration in the urine. Dipstick tests can, therefore, provide useful initial insights, but for reliable diagnosis, they should be supported by additional in-depth laboratory studies.


What Does a POTC Urine Dipstick Test Mean?

When referring to pee dipstick testing, the acronym "POTC '' refers to "protein, glucose, ketones, and blood". A thorough evaluation of these four essential elements in urine is provided by a POCT urine dipstick test. While elevated glucose levels can indicate diabetes, elevated protein levels may signal kidney problems. Blood may indicate urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or other diseases, and ketones may be increased in circumstances like uncontrolled diabetes or fasting. A favorable outcome in any of these categories can call for additional research by a medical expert in order to make a more precise diagnosis.
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Dr. Samer Sameer Juma Ali Altawil
Dr. Samer Sameer Juma Ali Altawil



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