Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Urinalysis: epithelial cells

Contributor(s): Kathleen P Freeman, Karen L Gerber, Andy Torrance


  • To detect epithelial cells in urine and determine their origin.
  • Renal tubular, bladder and/or urethral epithelial cells may be present.


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  • Decant supernatant.
    Either Add 1 drop of sedistain or a supravital stain such as Sternheimer-Malbin to the sediment. Do not use a cytological stain for standard urinalysis.
    Or Leave 0.5 ml urine in centrifuge tube.
  • Resuspend sediment by vigorously tapping the centrifuge tube.
  • Transfer one drop of sediment to a microscope slide (via a pipette) and place a coverslip over it.
  • Lower the condenser on microscope to improve contrast.
  • Systematically examine entire specimen under the lower power objective, assessing quantity and type of sediment.
  • Examine sediment under the high power objective to identify morphology of elements and to detect bacteria.
  • For cytology a spun sediment sample may be stained with a Romanowsky Staining techniques: Romanowsky-type stains or other stain depending on preference of cytologist and availability.


  • All veterinary practices.
  • External laboratories.

Technician (extrinsic) limitations

  • Following the same approach for every analysis results in consistent findings and allows the technician to develop experience.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • Brobst D (1989) Urinalysis and associated laboratory procedures. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 19(5), 929-949.
  • McCaw D L, Fleming E J & Mikiciuk M G (1989) Interpreting the results of urinalysis - a key to diagnosing renal disorders. Vet Med 84(3), 281-286.
  • Thrall M A et al(1984) Clinicopathologic findings in dogs and cats with ethylene glycol intoxication. J AVMA 184(1), 37-41.

Other sources of information

  • Kaneko J J (1997) Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals. 5th edn. Harvey J W & Bruss M L (eds). Academic Press, Boston.
  • Duncan J R, Prasse K W & Mahaffy E A (1994) Veterinary Laboratory Medicine Clinical Pathology. 3rd edn. Iowa University Press, Ames, Iowa.