Characteristics of Cellular Elements

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course The Urine Microscopic: Microscopic Analysis of Urine Sediment. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Characteristics of Cellular Elements

Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of the cellular elements that can be seen in urine.
Table 2. Characteristics of Cellular Elements.
CellSignificance
Epithelial - SquamousMust be differentiated from other cells.
Epithelial - Cuboidal or Renal TubularIncreased numbers indicate tubular necrosis, which is particularly important in renal graft rejection. Tubular damage caused by viral or bacterial infections.
Epithelial - Transitional or CaudateNot significant unless found in large numbers or abnormal in appearance.
White Blood Cells (WBCs)Bacterial infection.
Red Blood Cells (RBCs)More than an occasional RBC can be significant. They are often associated with damage to the glomerular membrane of vascular injury within the genitourinary tract.
Ghost Cells Alkaline urine causes RBCs to lyse, their empty membranes are called "ghost cells." Empty RBCs have the same significance as RBCs.
YeastCan be confused with RBCs unless they are budding. Yeast can be seen in diabetes mellitus or patients with vaginal candidiasis.
BacteriaMay be a contaminant unless WBCs are present.