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How does my doctor check my infant son’s urine for an infection?

Sometimes, infections of the bladder (urinary tract infections) and of the kidneys (pyelonephritis) can be hard to diagnose. While older children will have pain when they go to the bathroom, diaper-wearing infants cannot communicate this discomfort to us.

To diagnose a bladder or kidney infection, a doctor will need a urine sample. The sample will be taken by inserting a flexible narrow tube into the penis, through the urethra, and up into the bladder. This catheter allows urine to drain from the bladder directly into a sterile collection cup. The nurses in the office are often the ones performing this procedure.

Once the urine is collected the nurses will pour a bit of urine onto a stick that will change colors if certain indicators of infection are present. The rest of the urine will be sent to a lab where it will take 2-3 days to determine which specific bacteria is growing as well as which antibiotic is working well against that germ (a culture). In the meantime, your doctor will decide if your child should begin an antibiotic awaiting the culture results.

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