Urine Test: Dipstick

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What It Is

A urine dipstick test is often done as part of an overall urinalysis, but it can also be done on its own, depending on the doctor's concerns. Once a urine sample is collected, a nurse or technician will place a specially treated chemical strip (dipstick) into your child's urine. Patches on the dipstick will change color to indicate the presence of such things as white blood cells, protein, or glucose.

Why It's Done

The results of a urine dipstick test may point to a diagnosis of urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney disease, diabetes, or a urinary tract injury. If test results are abnormal, other tests will be needed before a definite diagnosis can be made.

Preparation

No preparation other than cleansing the area around the urinary opening is required for the urine dipstick test.

The Procedure

Your child will be asked to urinate into a clean sample cup in the doctor's office. If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a catheter (a narrow, soft tube) may need to be inserted into the bladder to obtain the urine specimen.

The skin surrounding the urinary opening has to be cleaned and rinsed just before the urine is collected. In this "clean-catch" method, you or your child cleans the skin around the urinary opening with a special towelette. The child then urinates, stops momentarily, and then urinates again into the collection container. Catching the urine in "midstream" is the goal. Be sure to wash your hands and your child's hands after this process.

Once collected, the technician or nurse will then place the dipstick into the urine sample. Collecting the specimen should only take a few minutes.

What to Expect

Because the test involves normal urination; there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen. It's important to keep the area around the urinary opening clean before the test and to catch the urine sample midstream.

Getting the Results

The results of the urine dipstick test will be available right away. If abnormalities are found, further urine tests will be needed. Talk to your child's doctor about the meaning of the specific test results.

Risks

No risks are associated with taking a urine dipstick test. If a catheterized specimen is required it may cause temporary discomfort and you can discuss any questions you have about this procedure with your healthcare provider.

Helping Your Child

The urine dipstick test is painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted, and why it's being done, can help ease your child's fear. Make sure your child understands that the urinary opening must be clean and the urine must be collected midstream.

If You Have Questions

If you have questions about the urine dipstick test, speak with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: February 2012



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases This group conducts and supports research on many serious diseases affecting public health.
OrganizationNational Kidney Foundation (NKF) NKF seeks to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation.
OrganizationAmerican Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 464-5000
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.


Related Articles

Urine Tests Is your child having a urine culture or urinalysis performed? Find out why urine tests are performed, and what to expect when the doctor orders them.
Kidney Diseases in Childhood The kidneys play a critical role in health. When something goes wrong, it could indicate a kidney disease. What are kidney diseases, and how can they be treated?
Urinary Tract Infections Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in kids, but often can be prevented. Early detection and treatment are key.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Related Conditions Recurrent urinary tract infections can cause kidney damage if left untreated, especially in kids under age 6. Here's how to recognize the symptom of UTIs and get help for your child.
Kidneys and Urinary Tract The bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a child's fist, perform several functions essential to health. Their most important role is to filter blood and produce urine.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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