Background: The method of collection of the urine sample is of paramount importance in making a diagnosis of urinary tract infection in infants and children. Squeezing urine out of disposable diapers can provide a urine sample that can be used to detect chemical abnormalities as well as a specimen suitable for microscopic examination. To date there have been no reported studies on the use of this technique for urine culture as compared with samples collected by suprapubic aspiration and catheterization.
Methods: Urine was obtained from 38 infants aged under 2 years who presented with fever with no obvious cause. All infants had urine collected either by catheterization or suprapubic aspiration and by extraction from a disposable diaper. The urine samples were cultured using standard bacteriologic techniques.
Results: Five infants had a urinary tract infection, as shown by a pure growth of more than 10(5) colonies/mL of a single species of bacterium. In all the cases the same result was obtained from both the diaper urine sample and the sample obtained by suprapubic aspiration or catheter. In 31 infants the urine samples collected by both techniques (diaper and catheter or suprapubic aspiration) were negative, and in only 2 infants did the diaper specimen yield a positive result, while the urine obtained by suprapubic aspiration or catheter was sterile.
Conclusions: Urine obtained from a disposable diaper can provide a valid sample for diagnosing urinary tract infection. The technique is simple, and can be carried out readily in ambulatory settings with minimal equipment and expense.