Analyzing urine is still one of the simplest ways to screen a person quickly for underlying medical conditions. That’s why so many physician offices still perform routine urinalysis when you are getting a checkup. Frequently, you are only having your specimen checked by a "dipstick". However, good urinalysis is not really that simple. For example, did you know that if you are taking large doses of Vitamin C that it will make the test for sugar negative? Did you know that you can sometimes even see crystals in urine if a person has kidney stones?
Urinalysis lets us study the kidney and how the body forms urine, so that we can understand what things should and should not be present in a urine specimen. Urine is a body fluid that is easily collected and usually plentiful, so that many laboratory tests can be performed which can assess the function of the kidney as well as many other organs in the body. The analysis of urine is one of the oldest lab tests performed for these reasons.
When we study urinalysis in the classroom, we study how the kidney forms urine, the physical and chemical composition of urine in health and disease, and the microscopic appearance of a centrifuged urine specimen in health and disease.
Since other body fluids share similarities to urine, we also study their physical, chemical, and microscopic components so that we can assess health or disease states. You can actually see crystals of uric acid in joint fluid specimens of people with gout. Sometimes, bacteria which can cause meningitis can be seen after staining spinal fluid. For all these reasons and others, urine and body fluid analysis remains a powerful tool in medical diagnostics, yet it can only be performed well with the types of knowledge and skills utilized by medical lab scientists.