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Clin Chem Lab Med. 1998 Dec;36(12):925-8.

Measurement of urine relative density using refractometer and reagent strips.

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Laboratorio Analisi Chimico Cliniche ed Ematologiche, Azienda Ospedaliera di Verona, Italy.


The relative density of urine is the ratio of its density to that of water and depends on both the number and weight of solute particles in the sample, while osmolality depends only on the number of solute particles. Water metabolism is regulated by the interaction of the renal medullary countercurrent system with the circulating levels of antidiuretic hormone and thirst. The concentration of solids in urine can be measured by weighing, hydrometry, oscillations of a capillary tube, refractometry and reagent strip. These techniques, interrelated but not identical, are commonly used in hospital laboratories and in clinical wards. We compared the results obtained in 1725 urine samples of inpatients and outpatients using an automated refractometer to those obtained using two visually read dip stick tests. The correlation coefficients (Super Aution analyser vs. Aution Sticks 10EA, Aution Sticks 10 EA vs. N-Multistix, Super Aution analyser vs. N-Multisticks were 0.663, 0.645 and 0.514, respectively) and the great dispersion of mountain plots demonstrates that different techniques are not interchangeable in the measurement of relative density. Since the results obtained after discarding the samples with pH higher than 7 and those containing glucose or protein were very similar to the ones reported above, the role of these interferents appears negligible in inducing the discrepancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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