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Urinalysis in children and adolescents.

BACKGROUND: Urinalysis is the most commonly performed biochemical test in infancy and early childhood. The urine sample should be correctly obtained, age-specific aspects should be considered, and age-dependent reference values should be used.

METHOD: This review is based on a selective literature search in electronic databases, textbooks, and guidelines from Germany and abroad on the acquisition of urine samples and the performance of urinalysis in infancy and early childhood.

RESULTS: The timing and mode of acquisition of the urine sample affect the assessment of hematuria, proteinuria, leukocyturia, nitrituria, and the uropathogenic bacterial colony count in the urine culture. Dipstick tests can be used for targeted screening for these features. The test results should be interpreted together with the findings of urine microscopy, the medical history, and the physical examination. Proteinuria should be quantified and differentiated; both of these things can be done either from collected urine or (especially in infants and young children) from a spontaneously voided urine sample, by determination of the protein/creatinine quotient. Orthostatic proteinuria in an adolescent requires no further evaluation or treatment. Hematuria should be characterized as either glomerular or non-glomerular erythrocyturia. Asymptomatic, isolated microhematuria in childhood is not uncommon and often transient; in the absence of a family history, it usually does not require an extensive work-up. Proteinuria combined with hematuria should arouse the suspicion of glomerulonephritis.

CONCLUSION: Urinalysis in infancy and early childhood is a simple and informative diagnostic test as long as the urine sample has been obtained properly and the results are interpreted appropriately for this age group.

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