Laboratory diagnosis of urinary tract infections in adult patients

Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 15;38(8):1150-8. doi: 10.1086/383029. Epub 2004 Apr 6.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections and account for a significant part of the workload in clinical microbiology laboratories. Enteric bacteria (in particular, Escherichia coli) remain the most frequent cause of UTIs, although the distribution of pathogens that cause UTIs is changing. More important is the increase in resistance to some antimicrobial agents, particularly the resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole seen in E. coli. Physicians distinguish UTIs from other diseases that have similar clinical presentations with use of a small number of tests, none of which, if used individually, have adequate sensitivity and specificity. Among the diagnostic tests, urinalysis is useful mainly for excluding bacteriuria. Urine culture may not be necessary as part of the evaluation of outpatients with uncomplicated UTIs, but it is necessary for outpatients who have recurrent UTIs, experience treatment failures, or have complicated UTIs, as well as for inpatients who develop UTIs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / trends*
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Urine / microbiology*