Urinary Tract Infections in Children - Exams and Tests
If your child has symptoms of a
urinary tract infection (UTI), the doctor's first
evaluation will probably include:
If the doctor suspects that your child has a UTI, a
urinalysis will help point to a diagnosis. A urine culture can confirm the
diagnosis and identify what is causing the infection. But the results usually
are not available for a couple of days. Rather than delay treatment to wait
for the results of the urine culture, the doctor probably will start your child
antibiotics if your child's symptoms, history, and
urinalysis show that a UTI is likely.
A urine sample will be collected.
- Older children may urinate into a container.
babies and young children, the doctor may:
- Insert a
catheter through the
urethra and into the bladder to collect
- Collect urine by attaching a bag around the child's genitals
until the child urinates. The risk of having other substances get into
(contaminate) the urine sample is extremely high with this
- Insert a needle through the abdomen directly into the
bladder (suprapubic aspiration) to get the sample.
The doctor may do other tests if your child has a UTI
- Does not improve after 4 days of medicine.
- Has a known abnormality of the urinary tract or a
history of certain kidney or bladder problems that could make the infection
harder to treat.
- May be infected with unusual bacteria that won't
respond to the usual treatment.
- Shows signs of
Tests after a child's first UTI
doctors recommend tests to check the
urinary tract after the first UTI in an infant or young child. But these tests may not be able to help a
doctor decide what treatment is needed.
The most common tests
after an infant's or young child's first UTI are:
The purpose of doing these tests after treatment for your
child's UTI is to reduce the risk of future kidney damage and related problems,
high blood pressure and kidney failure. These tests
can identify vesicoureteral reflux, abnormalities of the
urinary tract, and other conditions that may make your
child more prone to kidney infections. If the tests find any of these
conditions, the doctor can watch and give preventive treatment, if needed, to
your child. The doctor will do these tests at the earliest convenient time
after your child's UTI improves.
The doctor may do a
kidney scan (renal scintigram) to evaluate persistent
kidney infection or to evaluate kidney scarring or damage caused by previous
During the year after your child's first UTI, the
doctor may do periodic urine cultures to screen for UTI infections. But doctors
do not agree on how effective follow-up urine cultures are.