The Importance of Urine Concentration on the Diagnostic Performance of the Urinalysis for Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection

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Abstract

Study objective

The presence of leukocyte esterase by urine dipstick and microscopic pyuria are both indicators of possible urinary tract infection. The effect of urine concentration on the diagnostic performance of the urinalysis for pediatric urinary tract infection has not been studied. Our objective is to determine whether the urinalysis performance for detecting urinary tract infection varies by urine concentration as measured by specific gravity.

Methods

This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of the urine laboratory results of children younger than 13 years who presented to the emergency department during 68 months and had a paired urinalysis and urine culture obtained. Urinary tract infection was defined as pure growth of a uropathogen at standard culture thresholds. Test characteristics were calculated across 4 specific gravity groups (1.000 to 1.010, 1.011 to 1.020, 1.021 to 1.030, and >1.030).

Results

In total, 14,971 cases were studied. Median age was 1.5 years (interquartile range 0.4 to 5.5 years) and 60% were female patients. Prevalence of urinary tract infection was 7.7%. For the presence of leukocyte esterase and a range of pyuria cut points, the positive likelihood ratios decreased with increasing specific gravity. From most dilute to most concentrated urine, the positive likelihood ratio decreased from 12.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 10.7 to 13.7) to 4.2 (95% CI 3.0 to 5.8) and 9.5 (95% CI 8.6 to 10.6) to 5.5 (95% CI 3.3 to 9.1) at a threshold of greater than or equal to 5 WBCs per high-power field and presence of leukocyte esterase, respectively. The negative likelihood ratios increased with increasing specific gravity for leukocyte esterase and microscopic pyuria.

Conclusion

For the detection of pediatric urinary tract infection, the diagnostic performance of both dipstick leukocyte esterase and microscopic pyuria varies by urine concentration, and therefore the specific gravity should be considered when the urinalysis is interpreted.

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