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Urine specific gravity test

Urine specific gravity is a laboratory test that shows the concentration of all chemical particles in the urine.

How the Test is Performed

After you provide a urine sample, it is tested right away. The health care provider uses a dipstick made with a color-sensitive pad. The color the dipstick changes to will tell the provider the specific gravity of your urine. The dipstick test gives only a rough result. For a more accurate result, your provider may send your urine sample to a lab.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your provider will ask you to temporarily stop taking any medicines that may affect the test results. These may include dextran and sucrose. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take. DO NOT stop taking any medicine before talking to your provider.

Also tell your provider if you recently received intravenous dye (contrast medium) for an x-ray. Contrast dye can also affect test results.

How the Test will Feel

The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

This test helps evaluate your body's water balance and urine concentration.

Normal Results

Osmolality is a more specific test for urine concentration. The urine specific gravity test is easier and more convenient, and is usually part of a routine urinalysis. The osmolality test may not be needed.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Increased urine specific gravity may be due to conditions such as:

Decreased urine specific gravity may be due to:

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

Alternative Names

Urine density

References

Fogazzi GB, Garigali G. Urinalysis. In: Johnson RJ, Feehally J, Floege J, eds. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 4.

Riley RS, McPherson RA. Basic examination of the urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2017:chap 28.

Review Date 7/15/2017

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.