Urine Samples

Specimen types you should send:

  • Mid-stream urine, urine collected from urinary catheter port (not bag bladder washout samples), cystoscopy urine, nephrostomy tube urines, bag urine from infants, suprapubic aspirate (please also see links above).
  • For mycobacterial culture a normal universal container (white top) will suffices. Early morning urine - defined as the first pass urine of the day - should be collected into 3 separate containers over 3 consecutive days.
  • For pregnancy testing samples should be sent in a sterile universal container. Early morning urine is recommended for this test.
  • Antigen detection tests (e.g. legionella or pneumococcal urinary antigen) should be sent in a sterile universal container.
  • Urines for virology (CMV or BK virus PCR should be sent in a sterile universal container.
  • 24 hr urine collections or pooled urine samples are not acceptable Please only send one sample of urine per day  

How to Collect the Sample

  • Collect 20ml of urine if using a red topped universal container, this should fill up to the fill line. If less than 20ml is collected the boric acid in the container may inhibit the growth of some bacteria. Urine can be collected from a variety of sites (Mid-stream specimen of urine - MSSU - , catheter urine, bag urine from young children, nephrostomy tube urine, suprapubic aspirates of urines etc).
  • MSSU samples are prone to contamination and the patient has to be instructed to cleanse the area of the urethra thoroughly with soap and water before collecting after voiding the initial portion of urine. This reduces the contamination rate greatly.
  • Indicators of contamination are presence of epithelial cells or absence of white cells or pyuria. The cell count is found on the final report.


  • See Pathology Sample Labelling Policy. Label the specimen with patient information (First Name, Surname, DoB, location, physician, time and date) and also fill in those details on the request form.
  • On request form indicate the investigations required (e.g. M/C&S, OCP when requesting ova investigation to rule out schistosomiasis on terminal void urine collection).
  • A good history on the request form helps the laboratory tremendously (e.g. "not on antibiotics....urinalysis positive" or "on 3 days of trimethoprim still urinary symptoms").
  • Simply recording dipstick results without other clinical information is NOT acceptable.

Which Container does it go in?

 Image of sterile urine container

Red capped containers contain boric acid to preserve the urine.. They should be used for all routine microbiology urine samples (M,C & S), especially if delays in transport are anticipated.

White capped sterile universal containers are free of additives. They should be used for all other microbiology investigations, including early morning samples for Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, pregnancy tests, antigen detection and virology.


  • If the specimen is not transported immediately for bacterial culture, refrigerate.
  • Delay in transit can lead to a false positive result.

Page Reviewed: 03/11/15 | Updated by: Kevin Roberts