Lima Memorial Health System Logo
Approximate ER WAIT TIME

Health Library

Cytology exam of urine

Cytology exam of urine

Urine cytology; Bladder cancer - cytology; Urethral cancer - cytology; Renal cancer - cytology


A cytology exam of urine is a test used to detect cancer and other diseases of the urinary tract.

How the Test is Performed


Most often, a clean catch urine sample is collected in your health care provider's office or at home. This is done by urinating into a special cup. The clean-catch method helps prevent germs from the penis or vagina from getting into a urine sample. To collect your urine, you will get a clean-catch kit from your provider. It will contain a cup with a lid and sterile wipes. Follow instructions exactly.

The urine sample can also be collected during cystoscopy. During this procedure, your provider uses a thin, tube-like instrument with a camera on the end to examine the inside of your bladder.

The urine sample is sent to a lab and examined under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.


How to Prepare for the Test


No special preparation is needed.


How the Test will Feel


There is no discomfort with a clean catch urine specimen. During cystoscopy, there may be slight discomfort when the scope is passed through the urethra into the bladder.


Why the Test is Performed


The test is done to detect cancer of the urinary tract. It is often done when blood is seen in the urine.

It is also used to monitor people who have a history of urinary tract cancer. The test may be ordered for people who are at high risk for bladder cancer.

This test can also detect cytomegalovirus and other viral diseases.


Normal Results


The urine shows normal cells.


What Abnormal Results Mean


Abnormal cells in the urine may be a sign of inflammation of the urinary tract or cancer of the kidney, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Abnormal cells may also be seen if the person has had radiation therapy near the bladder, such as for prostate cancer, uterine cancer, or colon cancer.

This test alone cannot diagnose cancer or inflammatory disease. The results need to be confirmed with other tests or procedures.




There are no risks with this test.




Bostwick DG. Urine cytology. In: Cheng L, MacLennan GT, Bostwick DG, eds. Urologic Surgical Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020;chap 7.

Riley RS, McPherson RA. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 29.

BACK TO TOPText only

  • Bladder catheterization - female

    Bladder catheterization - female


  • Bladder catheterization - male

    Bladder catheterization - male


    • Bladder catheterization - female

      Bladder catheterization - female


    • Bladder catheterization - male

      Bladder catheterization - male


    A Closer Look


      Talking to your MD


        Self Care


          Tests for Cytology exam of urine


          Review Date: 7/26/2021

          Reviewed By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          © 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.