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Children's Health

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Urinary Tract Infections in Children - Exams and Tests

Initial tests

If your child has symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), the doctor's first evaluation will probably include:

  • A medical history and physical exam.
  • Urinalysis, which measures different parts of urine to help detect a UTI.
  • Urine culture, which identifies the bacteria that are causing a UTI.

If the doctor suspects that your child has a UTI, a urinalysis will help point to a diagnosis. A urine culture can confirm the diagnosis and identify what is causing the infection. But the results usually are not available for a couple of days. Rather than delay treatment to wait for the results of the urine culture, the doctor probably will start your child on antibiotics if your child's symptoms, history, and urinalysis show that a UTI is likely.

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A urine sample will be collected.

  • Older children may urinate into a container.
  • In babies and young children, the doctor may:
    • Insert a catheter through the urethra and into the bladder to collect urine.
    • Collect urine by attaching a bag around the child's genitals until the child urinates. The risk of having other substances get into (contaminate) the urine sample is extremely high with this method.
    • Insert a needle through the abdomen directly into the bladder (suprapubic aspiration) to get the sample.

The doctor may do other tests if your child has a UTI and:

  • Does not improve after 4 days of medicine.
  • Has a known abnormality of the urinary tract or a history of certain kidney or bladder problems that could make the infection harder to treat.
  • May be infected with unusual bacteria that won't respond to the usual treatment.
  • Shows signs of kidney injury.

Other tests

Other common tests include:

If an ultrasound shows problems, then a VCUG may be done. VCUG can identify vesicoureteral reflux, abnormalities of the urinary tract, and other conditions that may make your child more prone to kidney infections. If the test finds any of these conditions, the doctor can watch and give preventive treatment, if needed, to your child.

The doctor may do a kidney scan (renal scintigram) to evaluate persistent kidney infection or to evaluate kidney scarring or damage caused by previous infection.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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