Detecting microscopic hematuria when blood isn’t visible in the urine.
Hematuria is a medical term used to describe the presence of blood in urine. Sometimes, the blood can be easily seen by the individual when they urinate. This is called gross hematuria. The person’s urine may range in color from a very pale red to brown to bright red. When blood is obvious, it’s advisable to see a urologist, or seek emergency care as soon as possible, to determine the source of the blood. Occasionally, blood will be present in the urine without being visible. This condition, called microscopic hematuria, is diagnosed when blood is detected by the presence of red blood cells only found during laboratory testing or an in-office urinalysis.
Microscopic hematuria may be asymptomatic (without symptoms), or it may be present along with various symptoms. In this case, the individual might be alerted to possible health problems by an unexplained fever, lower back pain, flank pain, pain while urinating (dysuria), high blood pressure, swelling, or stomach pain. While these symptoms may or may not be tied to microscopic hematuria, they could be signaling an underlying urologic condition, such as kidney stones, that should be evaluated.
Whenever blood is present, a diagnostic workup is warranted. Simple explanations, such as menstruation, can explain the presence of blood. Similar factors, such as sexual intercourse or strenuous exercise, may contribute to blood in the urine, but are clearly not medical emergencies. On the other hand, microscopic hematuria could be pointing to a hidden medical problem.
Urologists will utilize different diagnostic tools to determine the cause of blood. To begin, a doctor will review the patient’s medical history, discuss current and past conditions, medications, and perform a medical examination. Further diagnosis can include imaging and/or laboratory testing.
There are many urologic conditions that can cause gross or microscopic hematuria. These conditions include:
- Kidney stones
- Bladder stones
- Kidney infection
- Bladder infection
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Enlarged prostate
- Blood disorders
- Kidney, bladder, or prostate cancer
Some of these conditions can be managed quickly through medications or in-office procedures. Others will require longer term solutions. Once detecting the blood, the key is quick diagnosis and treatment, particularly when dealing with more complex medical problems such as cancer.
If you have reasons to be concerned about hematuria or have other urinary system issues, contact the Urology Austin office nearest you to schedule an appointment. If you can clearly see blood in your urine, either contact our office to determine if a visit is recommended, or if you should proceed to an emergency room.