A cytology exam of urine is a microscopic examination of the cells that appear in the urine. This test can detect and help diagnose some urinary tract diseases. The urinary tract contains the kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that connect these organs to each other and to the outside of the body.
This test is often used to help diagnose diseases of the urinary tract that cause inflammation, as well as cancer. It may be done in people with a family history of bladder cancer.
A woman obtains a urine sample by the "clean-catch" method. This helps to prevent cells and bacteria from the vulva and perineum from getting into the urine sample and interfering with the test. In the clean-catch method, the woman is asked first to wipe across her urethral opening with an antiseptic cloth. Then, she urinates into the toilet for a few seconds.
After urinating for a few seconds, she catches a sample of "mid-stream" urine in a special cup. She can then finish urinating in the toilet. The cup is covered and sent to the lab. The urine can then be examined with a microscope.
Because of the different anatomy of the male urethra, a man can simply catch a "mid-stream" urine without having to wipe beforehand.
Normally, no special preparation is needed for this test.
Healthy cells are normally found in a urine sample. These cells are always being removed and replaced by the body. If abnormal cells or cancer cells are present in the urine sample, the result is abnormal. This may mean that either inflammation or cancer of the urinary tract is present.