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A 59-year-old female asked:

How abnormal is 5-10 for wbc in a urine test? i am curious about a small abnormality on my physical: the results of the urine chem/microscopy say trace of leukocyte esterase (reference range: negative) and a flag says ab. following that the wbc is ab

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Todd Mcniff
Internal Medicine 21 years experience
A : A few white blood cells in the urine of a female patient is very common, especially if the urine sample was not collected in particular manner. If a physician is interested in getting urine from a woman's bladder that has not been contaminated by passing through the vagina, which normally contains bacteria and white blood cells, the sample should be collected by asking the woman to use a antiseptic towelette to wipe the vagina while spreading the inner labia, then to urinate into the toilet for a second, stop urinating, then urinate into the specimen cup. If you didn't collect the urine in this manner, then it's more than likely that the white blood cells are from the vagina, not the bladder as are the bacteria and the leuk esterase. If it is noted that there were squamous epithelial cells in the urine, then it's even more likely, because those cells are found only in the vagina, not the bladder. Back pain is a common symptom, and occasionally it is the sole symptom of a urinary tract infection, but not usually. Most of the time people with utis will have pain on urination or frequency of urination, fevers, or pain on the sides of their back. If you have any of these (fever, urinary pain or frequency, or pain on the sides of your back) or if the middle back pain persists for more than a week, you should see a doctor. But the biggest thing here is, the physician who ordered the urine test should be available and eager to answer your question.
Last updated Feb 4, 2021

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