Urine Dipstick principle and significance of parameters

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Urine test stripes examined by aN MLT

Urine dipstick  are point of care easy to use, cost-effective medical tool that allow for the specific diagnosis and effective treatment of various disease states. The test strips are designed to detect small pathological changes in urine, and provide the result via a color-change test field (Lateral flow Chromatography).

Purpose of Urine Dipstick

It provides information about the body’s metabolic functions . This aids in the evaluation of renal, urinary, and metabolic disorders.

Combi 11 Urine dipstick is one of the most used in clinical biochemistry due to it numerous test parameters in a single strip making it more easy with a rapid diagnostic.These parameters are :

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Glucose
  • Bilirubin
  • Ketones
  • Specific Gravity
  • Blood
  • pH
  • Protein
  • Urobilinogen
  • Nitrites
  • Leukocytes

Principle of Urine Dipstick

The test strips consist of a ribbon made of plastic or paper of about 5 mm wide, plastic strips have pads impregnated with specific chemicals that react with the compounds present in urine producing a characteristic color(Chromatography). For the paper strips the reactants are absorbed directly onto the paper. Paper strips are often specific to a single reaction (e.g. pH measurement), while the strips with pads allow several determinations simultaneously.Hence this test method is based on Lateral flow chromatography.

Urine Dipstick procedure

The strip is dipped in to a urine sample, then using the provided color chart on the back of the Combi11 container, the results are matched to ascertain  levels of substances within the urine. Test result may provide information regarding the status of carbohydrate metabolism, kidney and liver function, acid-base balance, and urinary tract infection.

Result Reading time

Urine Dipstick result reading time
Urine Dipstick result reading time

Significance of Various parameters


Leukocytes: The detection of white blood cells in the urine suggests a possible Urinary tract infections.

  • Expected result : Negative
Also read  3 Functions Of The Kidneys You Need to Know Now


Nitrite: Screening for possible asymptomatic infections caused by nitrate-reducing bacteria – Suggesting a possible UTI. Note: These two parameters (Leukocytes and Nitrite) are commonly used to screen for possible Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

  • Expected result : Negative


Urobilinogen: the presence of excreted urobilinogen suggests a possible deterioration of liver functions. Urobilinogen is the breakdown product of bilirubin

  • Expected result: less than 17 µmol/l (< 1mg/dl)


Protein: This test is usually run to screen for kidney disease.  Protein in the urine is called Proteinuria.

  • Expected result: Negative


pH: Measures the acidity in your urine which may be a sign of kidney stones. Your pH varies during the day going from more acid in the am to more alkaline in the pm.

  • Expected result : Low


Blood: Blood in the urine is called hematuria. A number of things can cause hematuria including UTI, Kidney infection, medication, menstruation, strenuous exercise

  • Expected result: Negative

Specific Gravity

Specific Gravity: Evaluates the body’s water balance (hydration) and urine concentration and helps evaluate kidney functions and possible kidney diseases

  • Expected Results: low at 1,000 but normal ranges from 1.020 to 1.030


Ketone: The control of urinary ketone is useful in managing and monitoring type 1diabetes.

  • Expected Results: Negative


Bilirubin: The detection of Bilirubin in the urine is an early indication of liver disease. Bilirubin is the breakdown product of hemoglobin. Note: These two parameters (Urobilinogen and Bilirubin) are commonly used to screen for possible liver disease.

  • Expected Result: negative


Glucose: Glucose in the urine could indicate diabetes or renal glycosuria.

  • Expected Results: Negative
Also read  Minerals Functions,Sources and Deficiency

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic Acid: People taking vitamin C may have high amounts of ascorbic acid in their urine. Ascorbic acid is known to interfere with the accuracy of some chemical test strips, causing them to be falsely low or falsely negative. Examples of tests that may be affected include the urine dipstick tests for glucose, blood, bilirubin, nitrite, and glucose

Urine sediments

Examination of urine sediment may reveal the presence of different types of cells such as epithelial cells, leukocytes, erythrocytes, or renal cells. Different types of crystals, yeast, bacteria, or casts may also be present. Casts are cylindrical structures created by protein precipitation in the renal tubules.


  • Transfer urine sample to a conical centrifuge tube.
  • Centrifuge your sample at a moderate speed for 5 minutes. 


  •  Discard the supernatant (fluid off the top) by quickly pouring off fluid.
  • Tap tube with index finger to mix sediment with remaining fluid.
  •  Make a wet mount of sample by transferring 1 drop of material to a slide and covering with a coverslip.
  • Examine the sample under the microscope under low and high power.
  • Identify what you see .

You can also identify various crystals found in urine,bacteria,yeast cells,parasites and even epithelial cells as seen below

Various elements found in urine sediment
Various elements found in urine sediment

Also read : 

Clinical Significance of Various Crystals Found In Urine

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About the Author: Arthur Westmann

DEFFE ARTHUR (AMOEBAMANN) is the founder and author of MLTGEEKS and MLTEXPO.He’s from Cameroon and is currently a Final year State Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT MA). Beyond lab works, he’s a passionate internet user with a keen interest in web design and blogging. Furthermore He likes traveling, hanging around with friends and social networking to do in his spare time.


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