Family Medicine

  • Dysuria

    Note: This information is for preceptors only. Students are asked to not access this information and to respect this restriction as an honor code issue.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Define and differentiate causes of dysuria.
    • Identify patients with likely uncomplicated UTI and best method(s) of treatment
    • Learn laboratory tests that are helpful in differentiating causes of dysuria.
    • Recognize subtypes of patients risk for complicated UTI’s and/or other causes of dysuria.

    Suggested Readings:

    Bent S, Nallamothu BK, et al, Does this woman have an acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection? JAMA, May 22/29, 2002;287(20):2701-10.

    Bergus GR, Dysuria (Chapter 30). In: Sloan PD, Slatt LM, Ebell MH, Jacques LB, eds. Essentials of Family Medicine, 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2002, 495 - 510. Note: This is the required text for the FM Preceptorship.

    Case 1: 

    A 50 year old woman presents with 1 week of dysuria and denies vaginal or other urinary symptoms.

    Question 1: What is your differential diagnosis?

    UTI, vaginitis, urethritis, perineal trauma, atrophic vaginosis, bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, trichomoniasis. In men, prostatitis may present as dysuria.

    Question 2: What further evaluation would help you establish a diagnosis?

    1.) Physical exam: vitals, abdomen, CVA, genital, vaginal exam (if vaginal discharge reported)

    UA Sensitivity Speificity
    LE 0.87 0.36
    Nitrate 0.53 0.88
    10 back/hpf 0.85 0.99
    10 SBC/hpf 0.82 0.65

    3.) Possible urine CX-positive if >100 cfu/mL. not necessary in uncomplicated UTI. Consider in children, men, older women, concern of upper tract infection or recurrent infection/concern about resistant organisms
    4.) Possible wet mount – if vaginal discharge

    Case 2: 

    21-year-old female generally healthy presents to office with 3d h/o urinary frequency and burning on urination. She has increased her water intake without benefit. She is a college student with a new male sexual partner, and uses OCP’s. She denies fever, chills, back pain, or vaginal discharge. PMHx Neg. On physical exam, her vitals are normal and she has suprapubic tenderness, but no CVAT. UA: 1.030 / 1+LE / -blood / -nitrate / -glucose / -pro, 2-5 WBC / hpf

    Question 1: Does this female have uncomplicated UTI?

    Yes. Frequency and dysuria in the absence of vaginal discharge predict UTI with probability of 80-90%.

    Question 2: Does use of lab (UA / micro) costing the patient $37.00 help your differential diagnosis?

    No. The probability is high enough that the UA adds no predictive value. However, many physicians choose to order UA anyway.

    Question 3: What are her risk factors?

    Young, adult female; sexually active

    Question 4: What are likely organisms causing a UTI?

    E Coli – 70%, Staph Saprophyticus – 15%, Proteus mirabilis – 10%, S. Aureus – 5%, Enterocci – 3%, Klebsiella – 3%. \

    Question 5: What should you use to treat her?

    Antibiotics (Level A rec.)
    Cranberry juice - push fluids (Level C rec.)

    Case 3: 

    34-year-old female presents with 10 d h/o dysuria, mild urinary frequency. She note chills and aches, but has not taken her temperature. She is on Depo Provera so her LMP is unknown. She is uncertain about vaginal discharge. PMH: UTI 8 years ago. UA 1.015/ - LE/ - blood/ - nitrate. On physical exam, vitals are normal. Pelvic: mild erythema of external genitalia, no vaginal discharge or cervicitis, no CVAT or cervical motion tenderness.

    Question 1: Does this female have UTI?

    High probability, complicated UTI with chills

    Question 2: Does she exhibit any red flags for complicated UTI?

    Yes. Probable fever. Other red flags for complicated UTI include: Male gender, prepubertal or geriatric age, symptoms for more than 7 days, an immunosuppressing condition, an episode of acute pyelonephritis within the past year, known anatomic abnormality, diabetes mellitus, flank pain or tenderness.

    Question 3: What (if any) treatment should be given?

    Oral antibiotics, longer duration (7-14 days), close follow-up. Parenteral antibiotics are indicated if she cannot maintain hydration or oral intake or is medically unstable.

    Question 4: Should further testing be done?

    Urine culture. Consider pregnancy test. Consider wet prep & GC/Chlamydia testing.

    Case 4: 

    78-year-old male nursing home resident has 1 week of worsening incontinence, complaints of pain in penis, and inability to sleep. His nurse reports more confusion, especially at night. His past medical history is significant for HTN, high cholesterol, new depression, and a hip fracture 2 months ago. UA 1.025 / 2 + LE / 1 + blood / 1 + glucose / + nitrate. Microscopy shows 20-50 WBC / rare bacteria / 2-5 RBC/ 10-20 Epithelial cells/ hpf. You will not be able to perform a physical until the end of the day.

    Question 1: Do you need to ask further history or order other lab tests before beginning treatment? If so what?

    Ask about prior UTIs, current meds, foley catheter use, and order urine culture.

    Question 2: What concerns you regarding UTI in this patient?

    His age, male sex, and nursing home residence all lead to higher probability of a complicated UTI.

    Question 3: How would you treat a UTI in this case?

    Longer course of antibiotic therapy (7 – 10 days, if uncomplicated or 10 – 14 days if pyelonephritis). Consider using fluoroquinolone as outpatient or parenteral antibiotics. Imaging is indicated if he has a prior UTI.