Diagnostic test accuracy of dipstick urinalysis for diagnosing urinary tract infection in febrile infants attending the emergency department

Arch Dis Child. 2022 Dec;107(12):1095-1099. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2022-324300. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Objective: To report the diagnostic test accuracy of dipstick urinalysis for the detection of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in febrile infants aged 90 days or less attending the emergency department (ED).

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Patients: Febrile infants aged 90 days or less attending between 31 August 2018 and 1 September 2019.

Main outcome measures: The sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of dipstick urinalysis in detecting UTIs defined as growth of ≥100 000 cfu/mL of a single organism and the presence of pyuria (>5 white blood cells per high-power field).

Setting: Eight paediatric EDs in the UK/Ireland.

Results: A total of 275 were included in the final analysis. There were 252 (92%) clean-catch urine samples and 23 (8%) were transurethral bladder catheter samples. The median age was 51 days (IQR 35-68.5, range 1-90), and there were 151/275 male participants (54.9%). In total, 38 (13.8%) participants had a confirmed UTI. The most sensitive individual dipstick test for UTI was the presence of leucocytes. Including 'trace' as positive resulted in a sensitivity of 0.87 (95% CI 0.69 to 0.94) and a specificity of 0.73 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.79). The most specific individual dipstick test for UTI was the presence of nitrites. Including trace as positive resulted in a specificity of 0.91 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.94) and a sensitivity of 0.42 (95% CI 0.26 to 0.59).

Conclusion: Point-of-care urinalysis is moderately sensitive and highly specific for diagnosing UTI in febrile infants. The optimum cut-point to for excluding UTI was leucocytes (1+), and the optimum cut-point for confirming UTI was nitrites (trace).

Trial registration number: NCT04196192.

Keywords: Emergency Care; Infectious Disease Medicine; Paediatric Emergency Medicine; Paediatrics; Sepsis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Fever / diagnosis
  • Fever / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nitrites / urine
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urinalysis*
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / diagnosis


  • Nitrites

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04196192