Diagnosis of Urethritis

Urethritis is usually diagnosed by medical history and examination.  Urethritis is usually diagnosed when an abnormal discharge is present at the urethral opening. Urethritis may still be diagnosed even when no urethral discharge is present.  It can also be diagnosed by analyzing urethral fluid or discharge with a microscope.

    medical-history

    An important aspect of the medical history is to discuss sexual behavior and sexual history

  • Medical History
  • The medical professional should take a thorough medical history on a patient suspected of having urethritis.  Symptoms of urethritis should be enquired about in the medical history.  Other diseases that the patient may have and current treatment are a significant part of the medical history as some conditions may predispose a patient to develop urethritis.  An important aspect of the medical history is to discuss sexual behavior and sexual history.  Men who have multiple sexual partners are more at risk of developing urethritis.  Other important sexual queries are condom use, the use of spermicides and if any foreign objects are ever forced into the urethral opening.  Men who have intercourse with other men are also more at risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases like urethritis.

    Medical Exam

    The medical professional will examine the genital region including the penis and testicles

  • Medical Examination
  • The medical professional will examine the genital region including the penis and testicles for any swelling and abnormalities.  The opening of the urethra, known as the meatus, may be examined by the doctor to see if any red discoloration or discharge is present.  A urethral discharge is usually diagnostic of urethritis.  The medical professional may also feel for lymph nodes which will usually be enlarged in urethritis.  A rectal examination may also be performed to examine the prostate gland.  The doctor should examine the patient to see if any other infections are also present which may have resulted from a spread of the urethral infection.

    swab

    A swab may be inserted into the meatus to collect a specimen for sampling

  • Swab
  • A swab may be inserted into the meatus to collect a specimen for sampling.  This swab may cause some discomfort or mild pain.  Urethral discharge may also be obtained by “milking” the penis.  The swab is smeared onto a glass specimen slide to be examined under a microscope.  If the medical professional does not have microscope facilities available he/she will send the swab to a laboratory for further examination.  Bacteria and white blood cells may be seen in the specimen which will help determine the cause of urethritis.

  • Urine
  • Examination of the sediment of the first voided urine of the day may help in determining the cause of urethritis. Urine may also be examined to exclude a cystitis or pyelonephritis which may be present.

  • Other tests
  • Other tests that should be performed in a patient with suspected or confirmed urethritis are HIV testing, hepatitis B screen and syphilis testing.  This can be done by drawing blood and sending it to a laboratory for testing.  HIV is usually tested with blood obtained from a finger prick and the result is known within 2 minutes after testing.