Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed?

Your child's physician may diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) based on a description of symptoms and a physical examination.

Other studies may include a urinalysis (a laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection, or excessive protein) and a culture that can detect the presence of an infection.

Children with a confirmed urinary tract infection may require further diagnostic testing with a renal and bladder ultrasound. This is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to image the urinary tract.

If your child has a fever and a urinary tract infection, one of the following tests may be needed to evaluate the bladder and urethra as well as to detect possible vesicoureteral reflux (in which urine backs up to the kidneys instead of flowing out through the urethra):

  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) — A specific x-ray that examines the urinary tract. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys and how well the bladder empties. It’s also used to determine if there is obstruction in the urethra.
  • Radionuclide cystogram (RNC)— An RNC is similar to a VCUG except a different fluid is used.

How are urinary tract infections treated?

Treatments for urinary tract infections (UTIs) may include:

  • antibiotics
  • a heating pad or medications (to relieve pain)
  • increased fluid intake (especially water)

Your child's physician may ask you to bring your child back into the office for a re-evaluation a few days after treatment starts.

How are urinary tract infections prevented?

Ensure that your child is voiding regularly (every two to three hours) and takes the time to completely empty the bladder. Teach your child to wipe his or her bottom from front to back.

If your son is uncircumcised, he should be taught how to retract the foreskin on his penis and clean himself. However, his foreskin should never be retracted forcibly. And make sure that he knows to not allow the foreskin to stay retracted for long periods as this may shut off the blood supply to the head of the penis causing pain and possible injury.