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What is hematuria?

Hematuria is a medical term which describes the presence of blood in the urine. Hematuria can originate from anywhere along the urinary tract, including the kidney, ureter (tube that goes from the kidney to the bladder), the bladder itself, or from the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body). Hematuria in children is often benign with good prognosis, but can be very distressing for children and their parents.

Types of hematuria

Microscopic hematuria is the presence of red blood cells that are only visible with a microscope. It can be detected by urine dip sticks (a simple urine test that is often performed in the pediatrician’s office during well child visits) or by a formal urinalysis in the laboratory.

Gross hematuria indicates that there are enough blood cells present to change the color of the urine. The visible presence of blood in the urine can range in color from bright red to dark brown.

What are the possible causes of hematuria?

What studies will my child need?

Studies to determine the cause hematuria are tailored according to whether your child has gross or microscopic hematuria. Ultrasound of the kidney and the bladder remains the initial study of choice. Based on the results of the ultrasound, we may ask for additional studies such as a CT scan with and without contrast, function nuclear scans, or an MRI. In most instances, the cause of the hematuria is benign and the clinical symptoms will resolve on their own.

Less commonly, hematuria indicates significant urologic or kidney disease. In these instances, our team will work with you and your child to determine what additional medical or surgery intervention is needed.

Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: May 2011

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