POCT urine dipstick versus central laboratory analyses: Diagnostic performance and logistics in the medical emergency department

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Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the logistics and diagnostic performances of dipstick analyses compared to their counterpart central laboratory analyses for detection of bacteriuria, proteinuria, hyperglycemia, ketosis and hematuria. Design and methods: Urine dipstick results, urine culture results, flow cytometric cell counts, U-albumin-to-creatinine ratio, P-glucose and P-beta-hydroxybutyrate were retrospectively reviewed in a cohort of consecutive patients admitted to the medical emergency departments of two Danish hospitals. Sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of traditional dipstick analysis were estimated and dipstick was compared to flow cytometry for detection of significant bacteriuria using logistic regression. Turn-around-time for central laboratory analyses were assessed. Results: For each comparison, 1,997 patients or more were included. Traditional dipstick analyses for proteinuria, bacteriuria and ketosis reached sensitivities of up to 90%, while sensitivity for hyperglycemia was 59%. Flow cytometry outperformed traditional dipstick analysis for detection of bacteriuria with a difference in the area under the ROC-curve of 0.07. Turn-around-times for 95% delivery of central laboratory analysis results ranged from approximately 1½ to 2 h. Conclusions: For the detection of bacteriuria and albuminuria, central laboratory analyses reach better performance than dipstick analysis while achieving acceptable turn-around-times and are thus viable alternatives to dipstick analysis. For detection of ketosis and hyperglycemia, dipstick analysis does not perform adequately, but as very short turn-around-time is often required, these conditions may be best diagnosed by point-of-care blood test rather than dipstick or central laboratory analyses. Dipstick hemoglobin analysis, flow cytometry and microscopic evaluation may serve each their distinct purposes, and thus are relevant in the emergency department.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Biochemistry
Pages (from-to)17-25
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Bacteriuria
  • Hematuria
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Ketosis
  • Proteinuria
  • Urinalysis


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