Hematuria is blood in the urine. When the urine is red or pink this could be linked to blood in the urine and is called “gross” or “visible” hematuria. Sometimes, blood is in the urine but is not easily seen and it is called “microscopic” hematuria since it can only be seen under a microscope.
During routine visits to your health care provider, you are often asked to give a urine sample for testing. Many tests are done routinely, like checking for sugar (diabetes), bacteria (infection) and blood. Blood might be found either using a chemical strip (called a dipstick) or under a microscope. If blood is detected in these ways, then you may have “microscopic hematuria." There are many causes for blood in the urine. Most are not of worry, but some may call for care by your health care provider.
When blood is found in the urine, health care providers want to make sure there is not a serious health issue involved such as a tumor in the kidney, urinary tract or bladder. Urological cancers are rarely the cause of blood in the urine but can be life threatening.
When you actually see blood in the urine, it is called "gross hematuria." This is much more likely to be tied to a cancer or other health issue that needs medical care.
Your doctor will want to review the risks for cancer and learn if there are other causes of the blood in your urine. This often involves an exam and your doctor learning your full health record to see if you have risks for cancer such as smoking, prior radiation, chemotherapy or environmental exposures. The doctor will also be looking for non-cancer causes for the blood in the urine, such as recent trauma, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other procedures. If further testing is needed, then your doctor will arrange for these tests. If nothing is found to explain the blood in the urine, then your doctor may assess your level of risk for cancer as low, intermediate or high. These levels of risk are based on known risks for bladder cancer such as:
The goals of testing are two-fold. The first is to determine if there is an abnormality of the bladder and the second is to evaluate the upper urinary tract (kidneys, ureters which are the tubes that carry the urine to the bladder). A cystoscope is used to look at the bladder. This visual check of the bladder is done with a fiber optic camera. The upper urinary tracts are reviewed with imaging such as an ultrasound or CT scan.
Most patients with blood in the urine do not have major problems. In fact, for many, a cause is not known. In those patients with a more serious condition, finding this early can be lifesaving. It is of great value to get tested and not ignore these findings especially if blood is seen in your urine.
To learn more about your treatment options for Hematuria, schedule a visit Greater Hartford Urology Group today by calling one of our offices or booking an appointment online.