Epithelial Cells in Urine


When the urinalysis results come back with positive epithelial cells in urine, do you get concerned? What does the presence of epithelial cells in urine imply?

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Urinalysis is usually part of the routine medical check-up to assess the patient’s overall health. Microscopic and dipstick analysis is conducted to determine the composition of the urine; and the epithelial cells are some of the components being checked.

Epithelial cells build up the epithelial tissues. These tissues are very important and can be found anywhere in the body including in the urinary tract lining, which is why it can still be pretty normal to have a few epithelial cells in urine. But when there is more than the normal quantity of epithelial cells observed in the urine, then it could be an indication of a more serious condition which needs further investigation.

Three Types of Epithelial Cells in Urine

The urine may contain three different types of epithelial cells depending on the location of the problem – the squamous, renal tubular and transitional cells.

• Squamous epithelial cells are cells found particularly in the skin surface, in the urethra’s outer portion, and the insides of the vagina. These cells are usually large, flat, and scale-like which cover that entire surface and help in performing some of the vital functions inside the human body.

• Renal tubular epithelial cells or also known as cuboidal epithelial cells are cells found in the kidneys. In normal conditions, these cells help in urine formation by facilitating the transfer of water, sugar, and salt from the bloodstream to the urine. They are vital parts of the kidneys that aid in the filtration process and other kidney functions.

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• Transitional epithelial cells, or urothelium, are cells found in the ureter, bladder, and renal pelvis. These cells consist of multiple layers that expand or contract such as in the case of the bladder when it is full. They work to accommodate liquid volume and protect against the effects of the urine.

The presence of epithelial cells in urine is determined under a microscope, but the quantity of epithelial cells present is not determined until the last phase of urinalysis. Epithelial cells in urine are classified according to their type and quantity which may range from few, moderate, occasional, and many. Large amounts of renal tubular and transitional epithelial cells indicate problems in the kidney, bladder and other internal organs. While an increased quantity of squamous epithelial cells indicate that the urine sample may have been contaminated and needs another specimen.

Illnesses Associated With Increased Epithelial Cells

Bladder Infection – It is the most common disease associated with the overabundance of transitional epithelial cells in urine. This condition occurs when the bladder gets inflamed due to bacteria. Bladder infection is very common among women and should be treated right away to avoid spreading the bacterial infection to nearby organs.

Kidney Infection – This condition is detected if high amounts of renal tubular cells are present in the urine. This condition hinders the normal operations and functions of the kidneys; which if not treated right away, may result to life-long damage.

To avoid contamination of the urine sample and yield inaccurate results, you should be extra careful in taking and handling the urine sample. If the results indicate that there is more than the normal quantity of epithelial cells in urine, it would be wise to let your doctor see it so the appropriate steps can be done to diagnose the root cause.

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1 Comment

  1. is there any abnormalties in having pus cell in the body

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