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How do urine tests for UTIs work?

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Urine sample analysis for diagnosing urinary tract infections works by obtaining a urine sample from a patient and searching for bacteria, red blood cells or white blood cells in the sample, explains Mayo Clinic. After analyzing a urine sample, doctors sometimes perform a urine culture test, which involves growing urinary tract bacteria in a laboratory to identify the bacterial species causing an infection, before prescribing appropriate medications to treat the infection.

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Doctors order an ultrasound test, magnetic resonance imaging exam or computerized tomography scan if urinary tract abnormalities are likely causing frequent infections in patients, reports Mayo Clinic. During these tests, a contrast dye may be used to examine urinary tract structures clearly. Another diagnostic procedure for recurrent urinary tract infections is a cystoscopy, which involves inserting a thin instrument called a cystoscope to view the inner areas of the bladder and urethra.

Patients can prepare for a urinary tract infection evaluation by collecting a urine specimen as instructed by the doctor, determining symptoms, listing current medications or supplements, and writing down health concerns to ask the doctor during the appointment, notes Mayo Clinic. Doctors may refer patients with chronic kidney infections or frequently recurring infections to urologists, who specialize in urinary disorders, or nephrologists, who specialize in kidney disorders. When diagnosing patients, doctors usually ask about the onset of symptoms, previous treatment for a kidney or bladder infection, and severity of discomfort.

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