Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine – Types, Test and Prevention

The urine will pass through various structures of the urinary tract before it goes out of the body. Along the way, various epithelial cells such as squamous epithelial cells may come off and go with the urine.

Squamous cells are scale-like cells that are essential to the proper functioning of the body, and it is present in various parts of the body including the kidney. For this reason, a person’s urine may contain this type of cell. So, what does it mean when one has squamous epithelial cell in the urine and how can you prevent it?

Functions:

Squamous epithelial cells are part of several body structures such as the blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys.

The blood vessels have squamous cells known as the endothelial cells that have varying functions. In the veins and arteries, the main role of these cells is to reduce friction leading to a smooth flow of the blood. In addition, these cells also help regulate a person’s blood pressure by aiding in the dilation and constriction of the veins and arteries. The endothelial cells present in the inner lining of the capillaries are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and nutrients in the tissues and allow the outward flow of waste materials.

Gas exchange occurs in the alveoli of the lungs. These cells found in this structure of the lungs allow the entry of oxygen into the bloodstream via the capillaries. Furthermore, the body is able to remove and exhale carbon dioxide once this gaseous waste material passes through the epithelial cells.

Another organ that helps remove waste materials in the body via the urine is the kidneys. This occurs through the help of the squamous epithelial cells present in the glomeruli, a network of capillaries that filter the blood and remove its excess fluids and waste materials.

Types of Epithelial Cells in Urine


Because epithelial cells are present in the kidney and urinary tract, a person’s urine may contain varying types of epithelial cells that may indicate certain medical conditions depending on the type of the cell, which includes the following:

  • Squamous Epithelial Cells

Women will typically have a certain amount of such cells in their urine once the urine passes through the urethra and out of the vagina. For healthy men, their urine will not contain these cells. However, this type of epithelial cell can still get into their urine from the lower part of the urethra.

Normally, pregnant women will have these cells in their urine. However, if the urine has high amounts of these cells, it may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). Thus, the doctor will look for other cues to confirm his diagnosis such as the presence of nitrates in the urine.

Overall, this kind of cells in the urine do not have any significant value in determining a medical condition.

  • Transitional Epithelial Cells

Typically, healthy people will have a small amount of transitional epithelial cells in their urine because these cells are present in the lining of the ureters, renal pelvises, bladder, and the prostate’s gland ducts.

When a person has high amounts of transitional epithelial cells in the urine, it may indicate an inflammation in the urinary tract.

  • Renal Epithelial Cells

Normally, newborn babies will have some renal cells in their urine. However, for healthy people, their urine should not contain these cells. The presence of these cells is a sign of a disease or damage in the renal parenchyma.

How to Test

To test for the presence of squamous cells in the urine, one must undergo a urinalysis, which includes the following steps:

  • The patient must collect a urine sample using a sterile container from his first urination of the day because this sample is ideal for urinalysis.
  • The most important step in a urinalysis is the centrifugation process wherein a technician will place a small amount of the urine sample in a centrifugation machine.
  • After centrifugation, the technician will look for sediments using a microscope.
  • If the technician found squamous cells in the urine, the doctor will ask for a re-test of a fresh sample to verify his diagnosis.
  • In most cases, the urine will contain squamous cells due to a contamination. However, if the re-test still showed the presence of these cells, it is a sign of an infection in the urinary tract. The urine analysis may also show the presence of renal epithelial cells, which indicates an inflammation in the kidney.

Health care practitioners recommend that a person should take an annual urinalysis because it can provide vital information about the condition of certain organs and glands of the body, which includes the following:

  • A urine test can detect diabetes by measuring the amount of glucose.
  • The urinalysis can determine the presence of stones in the kidney or urethra by identifying the type of crystal present in the urine.
  • A urinalysis can also determine the liver’s condition by detecting the presence of bilirubin.
  • The presence of nitrates in a person’s urine is a sign of UTI because of the bacteria that converts nitrates into nitrites.
  • High levels of red blood cells (RBCs) in the urine may suggest that a person has a disease or problem in the urinary tract.

Prevention:

Because the most common cause of the presence of squamous epithelial cells in the urine is contamination, the best way to prevent it is to follow the proper procedures when collecting a sample.

For men, it is vital to always wash your penis before collecting a urine sample. As mentioned, it is best to get a sample in the morning during the first urination. Furthermore, one should allow the urine to flow for a few seconds before collecting it in a sterile container.

In general, one should always consult their doctor if a urine test showed the presence of such a kind of cells. The doctor will be able to explain the overall result of your urinalysis.