Leukocyte esterase is an enzyme secreted by the white blood cells (leukocytes) of our body. Its presence in urine is a cause for concern. Although, white blood cells help to combat various infections, when they are present in the wrong place (urine), don't expect this phenomenon to be normal. This enzyme in urine is pointing towards the fact that something is wrong with the urinary system. To be more precise, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is likely to show leukocyte esterase in urine during an urinalysis.
Leukocyte Esterase Test
UTIs are bacterial in nature and can affect any organ that form the urinary system. Thus, the kidneys, bladder, ureters or urethra could be infected. UTI typically, causes a burning sensation while urinating. Pelvic or rectal pain followed by urge to urinate frequently are some of the symptoms of a UTI.
A reliable way to detect UTI or other defects in the urinary system is to undergo a leukocyte esterase test. A sample of the patient's urine is collected in a sterilized container to examine its chemical composition and then a dipstick (a strip of plastic) is then introduced into the collected sample of urine. Different chemicals are applied on specific areas of the dipstick. The chemicals on the dipstick combine with constituents of urine and accordingly change color. Analyzing the changed color of the dipstick, can give an idea about the constituents of urine.
Urinalysis Under Microscope
In case, test results show abnormally high levels of white blood cells (WBCs) in urine, a small amount of the sample is then observed under a microscope for confirmation. Microscopic urinalysis will verify the results of the test.
In medical terminology, leukocytes in urine is referred to as pyuria. This condition not only suggests UTI but also indicates the presence of pus in urine. When pus cells are contained in urine, it could mean inflammation, or a possible injury, in the urinary system due to presence of kidney stones in the urinary tract.
With leukocytes in urinalysis, the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases, disorders of the bladder or kidneys also cannot be ruled out. For instance, if the small blood vessels in the kidneys, that do the job of filtering the blood, are swollen, urinalysis may detect this enzyme.
Depending upon the amount of enzyme present in the urine, the doctor will determine how severe the infection is. Higher the WBC count in urine, higher the severity of infection. On the whole, traces of this enzyme in urine is a cause for concern and should not be ignored. After diagnosing the underlying cause, necessary treatment has to be taken to resolve the issue.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.