The Basics of Urine Specimen Collection
It’s not uncommon for a doctor to request you to give your urine sample for testing when you’re unwell. Urine has a rich history for measuring health for many years, and it remains an essential tool for clinical diagnosis. However, the type of information obtained from a urine sample or specimen depends a lot on how it’s collected and handled.
With this in mind, it’s essential to familiarize with the basics of urine collection. You’ll be better informed the next time your doctor requests you to give a urine specimen for testing.
Types of Specimen Collection
Urine specimens are classified by the collection procedure used to get the specimen. One is the random specimen that is most common, primarily because it’s the easiest to obtain. This specimen is usually collected for microscopic analysis and urinalysis. Unfortunately, random specimens sometimes provide an inaccurate view of your health if it’s too diluted or the values of analysis are lowered.
Random urine specimens are collected at any time, and there are no specific guidelines on how it should be handled. However, care must be exercised not to introduce any contaminants. As a patient, avoid touching the inside of the urine collector.
Another type is the sample collected when the patient first wakes up in the morning. This type is more preferred for a urinalysis and microscopic tests since it tends to be more concentrated. Since it remains in the bladder for long hours, it contains higher levels of analytes like proteins. The collection of this type of urine specimen is more practical for patients with typical sleep or work schedules. Proper collection and accurate recording are crucial for accurate results, which must be obtained within 8 hours after collection.
Midstream Clean Catch Specimen
The midstream specimen is the preferred type for culture and sensitivity. It has reduced incidences of microbial contamination. You’re required first to cleanse the urethral area. The first portion of the urine stream should be voided in the toilet to reduce the chances of contamination.
Collect the midstream portion of the urine into a clean container and void the excess into the toilet. This collection method can be used at any time of day or night.
Timed specimen collections are among the most commonly performed tests. They measure urine urea nitrogen, creatinine, sodium, glucose, and potassium. The specimen is collected over a specified length of time, usually eight or 24 hours. In this method, you should empty your bladder before the beginning of the timed collection.
For the duration of the collection period, you collect all urine and pool it into a collection container. The final collection should be towards the end of that collection schedule. Refrigerate the sample during the collection period unless otherwise requested by your physician. Accurate timing is crucial to the analysis.
Catheter Collection Specimen
This collection procedure is conducted when the patient is bedridden or can’t urinate independently. Your doctor or healthcare provider inserts a Foley catheter into the bladder to collect urine. The specimen may also be directly collected from a Foley into an evacuated tube or transferred into a cup using a syringe.
Suprapubic Aspiration Specimen
This method is used when a bedridden patient can’t use a catheter, or the doctor requires a sterile specimen. The urine is collected using a needle aspiration into the bladder through the abdominal wall.
This collection method is for small children and infants. The doctor sticks a unique urine collection tool to the skin surrounding the urethral area. Once the collection is complete, the urine is transferred into a collection cup or transferred into an evacuated tube. Urine collected from a diaper isn’t recommended for laboratory use. Contaminants from the diaper may interfere with the results of the urine test.
Common Reasons for Urine Tests
When can your doctor authorize a urine test? Most often, urinalysis is used:
- Before undergoing surgery
- As part of screening during a pregnancy checkup
- As part of routine medical checkup
Another situation that may warrant the test is when your doctor suspects that you have:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Urinary tract infection
The test may also be used to check treatment progress if you’ve already been diagnosed with these conditions. Some symptoms that call for the test include abdominal pain, painful urination, back pain, and the blood in the urine.
A urine test is among the most common tests a doctor will prescribe on your visit to the hospital, depending on your symptoms. Remember to exercise caution when collecting your specimen to avoid contamination. When the results are ready, your doctor will review them with you and give you the course of treatment.