Urinary tract infection is diagnosed by testing the urine for the presence of pus cells and bacteria. A fresh urine sample should be collected, avoiding contamination as far as possible. Collecting the midstream of the urine as the child urinates after cleaning his/her private area well does this. If this cannot be done especially in young infants, it may be necessary to collect urine by passing a fine tube into the bladder through the urethra or to collect the urine through a small needle that is inserted into the bladder through the abdomen. These procedures are safe in the hands of experienced doctors.
Using adhesive bags to collect urine specimens are not reliable as they are often contaminated. Urine specimens once collected are usually tested with a dipstick to look for pus cells and when present, it may indicate the presence of UTI. A definitive diagnosis of UTI can only be made by sending the urine to the laboratory to see whether there is any significant growth of bacteria in the urine. This process is termed urine culture and it takes 48 – 72 hours to be ready.
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