Diagnostic tests for UTI

Diagnostic Tests for UTI and Symptoms of UTIs

A common kind of infection that affects the bladder, ureters and kidneys is called Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Anyone can get this infection, though women get it most often. Some people get it recurrently.

Symptoms: The Symptoms of UTIs Include:

  • Persistent urge to urinate and often
  • Passing urine in small amounts often
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Urine looks misty
  • Redness in the urine attributed to blood
  • Stench from urine
  • Pain in the pelvic area and near the pubic bone

Diagnostic Tests for UTI:

How do doctors tests for UTI? Well, there are several diagnostic tests and procedures used today to tests for UTI, such as:


As the name suggests, your urine sample is taken and tested for UTIs. Your doctor will ask for one such sample for analysis to test for the presence of bacteria, red blood cells or white blood cells in your urine.
Just so that the sample is not contaminated, the doctor may also ask you to wipe your private part using an antiseptic pad and to urinate into the bottle. If there is clear evidence of bacterial infection and the presence of white blood cells in a urine sample, it means you suffer from UTI.

Urine Culture:

After lab analysis comes urine culture. This test is especially for those who suffer from UTIs recurrently and for those who remain hospitalized. For these people, the results of a urinalysis test is confirmed by performing a urine culture. Through this test, your doctor can tell which bacteria are causing this infection. Accordingly, appropriate medication will be given to you.

Ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI:

If your complaint is frequent urinary tract infection, your doctor may think it is due to some abnormality in your urinary tract. To detect the reason for this, your doctor may advise you to have an ultrasound, a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) done.

Susceptibility Testing:

If the urine culture test throws up microbes in your urine sample, the doctor will know which antibiotics will prevent the growth of yeast or bacteria that causes this infection and the most effective drugs for treatment.

Follow-up tests:

One or more of the following tests for UTI may also be done in some cases:

  • If your doctor determines that a UTI may have spread to your bloodstream, he may ask you for a blood culture test.
  • If your healthcare practitioner feels that your symptoms are due to an STD (sexually transmitted disease) like gonorrhea or Chlamydia, he may ask you to go in for one or several tests for STDs.
  • If you suffer from UTIs recurrently, you may be asked to have laboratory tests, including glucose or hemoglobina1c as a check for diabetes, or BUN and creatinine (to check for your kidney function).
  • If your doctor detects that you also have a kidney stone apart from a UTI, he may ask you to have a kidney stone analysis and/or a kidney stone risk panel.

Non-laboratory Tests:

By having imaging scans and special X-rays, your doctor can detect anatomical problems and signs of underlying diseases that could be causing your recurrent UTIs. If you or your little son suffer from UTI, the doctor will ask for an imaging test to be done. These tests are also diagnosed for those who complain of blood in their urine.

The following imaging tests provide different information about the urinary tract’s various structures:

Kidney and Bladder Ultrasound:

This test uses sound waves that produce images of the kidneys and bladder so that your doctor can clearly see any structural defects in these organs.

Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG):

Through this imaging test, the bladder and urethra can be seen as they really are while the bladder fills up and drains out.

Nuclear Scans:

There are a range of scans that can be done to examine the shape and function of the kidneys and bladder. Each scan type calls for a radioactive dye vein injection. The dye is sent to the kidneys and bladder, so that the doctor can see if there are any structural defects in these organs.


Your doctor may feel the need for special x-rays to be done to show up any structural defects, incomplete draining of the bladder, or narrowing of the urethra that may lead to urine getting stagnated in the organ and leading to infection. Pregnant women, however, will not be allowed to have such x-rays done due to harm to the fetus.


If you complain of recurrent UTIs, the doctor will want to perform a small procedure called a cystoscopy. This means using a long and slender tube bearing a lens or cystoscope so that he may see the interior of your bladder and urethra. This probe is inserted through the urethra and then into the bladder.

The objective of this procedure is to identify any defects and blockages in the bladder and urethra. If a stone is detected in the bladder, the doctor may send other instruments via the cystoscope which will help to break the stone into smaller pieces or remove it entirely using laser technology. This procedure can also give the doctor tissue and urine samples.

Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP):

This test gives a comprehensive look to the entire urinary tract. The test is done by sending an opaque dye into the vein which then reaches the kidney and bladder. To check for defects in the bladder or kidneys, a few x-rays are taken.

Home Tests:

Tests for UTIs can be at home too. You can use a dipstick test kit and check for UTIs. Talk to your doctor about using a test kit. The urinary tract camera checks the kidneys, urethra, bladder and ureters.

A typical dipstick test kit contains dipsticks that you can dip into your urine sample. The test is to look for a nitrite produced by UTIs. There are some dipstick tests that check for white blood cells or leukocytes. Certain others test for both leukocytes and nitrite too. When a part of the end of the strip changes color, it means you have the infection.

Usually, antibiotics are effective enough in curing most UTIs. However, if left untreated, UTIs may well spread to the kidneys and turn into a chronic problem.


Like any infection, one must be careful to have this infection treated in its initial stages rather than ignore it and let it fester. How practical we are at such times will depend on our treatment choices.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sameer Kumar (MBBS, MS, FMAS, DMAS)Obstetrician & Gynecologist