What is Hematuria?
Hematuria is the medical term used to describe the presence of blood in the urine. Blood can be visible with the naked eye, where you see the urine become pinkish or bloody, or it can be detected on urine strips when a urine test is performed at your primary care office.
What Does Hematuria Mean For My Health?
Seeing blood in your urine can be a frightening experience, but it does not always mean you have something serious. It could simply be a sign of a urinary tract infection that can be treated with an antibiotic. Additionally, the source of blood could be from any other structure along the entire urinary tract, which includes all structures from the kidney to the urethra.
What Causes Hematuria?
The kidney starts the process of urine formation by filtering your blood through a specialized network of very fine blood vessels called “glomeruli”. Once these blood vessels filter the blood, the fluid goes through tubes connected to each other called the “tubules”. These tubules finally end up in one large tube called the “Ureter,” which carries the urine away from the kidney to your bladder, which acts as a reservoir for urine. Once enough urine accumulates in your bladder, stretch receptors send signals to your brain to tell the bladder to empty its contents. This produces the urge to urinate. Urine then passes through a tube called the “Urethra” and is removed from your body.
Injury to any of the mentioned structures could cause blood in the urine. This includes, but is not limited to, infections, kidney or bladder stones, a ruptured cyst in the kidney, tumors or inflammation of the blood vessels inside the kidney.
How Is Hematuria Treated?
We can usually pinpoint the source of the blood through a series of either non-invasive tests, including blood tests, looking at the urine under a microscope or using imaging such as ultrasound/CT scan or more invasive tests such as cystoscopy (which requires the insertion of a small tube with a camera to look on the inside of the bladder or other structures from the inside) or a Kidney biopsy to identify the source of the blood.