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Cytology exam of urine

A cytology exam of urine is a test used to detect cancer and other diseases of the urinary tract.

How the Test is Performed

Most of the time, the sample is collected as clean catch urine sample in your doctor's office or at home. This is done by urinating into a special container. The clean-catch method is used to prevent germs from the penis or vagina from getting into a urine sample. To collect your urine, the health care provider may give you a special clean-catch kit that contains a cleansing solution and sterile wipes. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.

The urine sample can also be collected during cystoscopy. During this procedure, your health care provider uses a thin tube-like instrument with a camera on the end to examine the inside of your bladder.

The urine sample is sent to a lab and examined under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed.

How the Test will Feel

There is no discomfort with a clean catch urine specimen. During cystoscopy, there may be slight discomfort when the scope passed through the urethra into the bladder.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is done to detect cancer of the urinary tract. It is often done when blood is seen in the urine.

It is also useful for monitoring patients who have a history of urinary tract cancer. The test may sometimes be ordered for people who are at high risk for bladder cancer.

This test can also detect cytomegalovirus and other viral diseases.

Normal Results

The urine shows normal cells.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal cells in the urine may be a sign of inflammation of the urinary tract or cancer of the kidney, ureters, bladder, or urethra.

Be aware that cancer or inflammatory disease cannot be diagnosed with this test alone. The results need to be confirmed with other tests or procedures.

Alternative Names

Urine cytology

References

Bajorin DJ. Tumors of the kidney, bladder, ureters, and renal pelvis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 203.

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.

McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Phildelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.

Update Date: 12/27/2013

Updated by: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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