Advances in Urine Microscopy

Gavin J. Becker, Giuseppe Garigali, Giovanni B. Fogazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urine microscopy is an important tool for the diagnosis and management of several conditions affecting the kidneys and urinary tract. In this review, we describe the automated instruments, based either on flow cytometry or digitized microscopy, that are currently in use in large clinical laboratories. These tools allow the examination of large numbers of samples in short periods. We also discuss manual urinary microscopy commonly performed by nephrologists, which we encourage. After discussing the advantages of phase contrast microscopy over bright field microscopy, we describe the advancements of urine microscopy in various clinical conditions. These include persistent isolated microscopic hematuria (which can be classified as glomerular or nonglomerular on the basis of urinary erythrocyte morphology), drug- and toxin-related cystalluria (which can be a clue for the diagnosis of acute kidney injury associated with intrarenal crystal precipitation), and some inherited conditions (eg, adenine phosphoribosyltransferase deficiency, which is associated with 2,8-dihydroxyadenine crystalluria, and Fabry disease, which is characterized by unique urinary lamellated fatty particles). Finally, we describe the utility of identifying "decoy cells" and atypical malignant cells, which can be easily done with phase contrast microscopy in unfixed samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)954-964
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Automation
  • Bright-field
  • Crystalluria
  • Cytopathology
  • Diagnosis
  • Hematuria
  • Kidney disease
  • Nephrologist
  • Phase-contrast
  • Polarized light
  • Red blood cells (RBCs)
  • Review
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine microscopy
  • Urine sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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