Objective: To evaluate a portable electronic pH meter and to put its accuracy in perspective with reagent strips read by a layperson, a healthcare professional, and an electronic reading device.
Materials and methods: Based on a preanalysis on 20 patients, a sample size of 77 urine aliquots from healthy volunteers was necessary to obtain sufficient study power. Measurements of urinary pH were obtained by use of reagent strips, a portable pH meter and a laboratory pH meter (gold standard). Reagents strips were read by a professional experienced in interpreting strips, a layperson, and an electronic strip reader. The mean matched pair difference between measurement methods was analyzed by the paired t-test. The degree of correlation and agreement were evaluated by the Pearson's correlation coefficient and Bland-Altman plots, respectively.
Results: The mean matched pair difference between the gold standard and all other pH measurement methods was the smallest with the portable electronic pH meter (bias 0.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.07 to 0.08; p = 0.89), followed by strips read by a professional (bias -0.09, 95% CI -0.21 to 0.02; p = 0.10), layperson (bias -0.17, 95% CI -0.31 to -0.04; p = 0.015), and electronic strip reader (bias -0.29, 95% CI -0.41 to -0.16; p < 0.001). The portable electronic pH meter achieved the highest Pearson's correlation coefficient and narrowest 95% limits of agreement, followed by strip interpretation by a professional, electronic strip reader, and layperson. To quantify the ability of pH measurement methods to correctly classify values within a predefined urinary pH target range, we performed classification tests for several stones. The portable electronic pH meter outperformed all other measurement methods for negative predictive values.
Conclusions: Findings of this study support that the portable electronic pH meter is a reliable pH measuring device. It appears to be more accurate compared to reagent strips readings.
Keywords: human; pH; reagent strip; urinalysis; urine; urolithiasis.