What Is the Purpose of a Leukocyte Esterase Urine Test?

The purpose of a leukocyte esterase urine test is to screen for a substance that suggests the presence of white blood cells, which may indicate a urinary tract infection, according to MedlinePlus and WebMD. The test is part of a urinanalysis and involves using a dipstick with chemical strips as well as a microscope to check for any signs of an infection, notes Mayo Clinic.

When performing a leukocyte esterase urine test, a clean-catch sample is preferable, explains MedlinePlus. A health care provider may offer a kit with cleansing tools and instructions to obtain a urine sample not contaminated by germs. A dipstick indicator changes color depending on whether or not white blood cells are present. If the test is positive, a microscope examination can help determine signs of infection.

If a leukocyte urine test shows above-average levels of white blood cells, further testing may be necessary, according to Mayo Clinic. A urinary tract infection, if limited to the bladder, can be irritating and very painful. But if the infection spreads to the kidneys, there can be serious complications. Women tend to develop urinary tract infections more often than men. In most cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat such infections.