What Do Squamous Epithelial Cells in a Urinalysis Indicate?

According to the Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, the presence of squamous epithelial cells in a urine sample is generally an indicator that the sample has been tainted.

Lab Tests Online notes that epithelial cells can also signal urogenital issues, such as infections, inflammation, and cancers. Based on microscopic analysis, clinicians typically classify the number of squamous epithelial cells in a urine sample as few, moderate, or numerous. Few indicates a normal range, however moderate and numerous can indicate the presence of a medical issue.

What are the characteristics of squamous epithelial cells?

Numerous regions of the body have squamous epithelial cells that help to cover a structure or hollow. Although they are commonly considered to be skin cells, they actually cover several layers of the human body, both inside and out. For instance, squamous cells are found in the layers of the mouth, cervix, and middle skin.

Instead of being cube-shaped, squamous epithelial cells are thin and flat. They have a wide surface area and are the epithelial cell type with the smallest thickness. Their structure facilitates the movement of molecules over their membrane, making them effective for filtration and diffusion.

How is a Microscopic Exam Carried Out?

For microscopic urinalysis, a test tube of urine is centrifuged to separate its components. The top layer, or supernatant, is discarded. The sediment and leftover urine are next examined using a low-power microscope. This determines the identity of squamous cells, crystals, and casts. The sample is next studied at high magnification to identify bacteria, other cells such as red and white blood cells, and cell clusters.

What other types of epithelial cells can be found in a urine sample?

There are three types of urinary tract lining. In addition to squamous cells, the kidney has tubular and transitional cells. Lab Tests Online notes that determining the type of epithelial cells present in a urine sample can assist the physician establish whether the cells originated in the bladder, urethra, kidneys, or elsewhere. The kidneys contain renal tubular cells, whereas the bladder and uterus include transitional cells.

Is a Particular Number of Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine Normal?

Absence of squamous epithelial cells in urine may suggest an infection of the urinary system. In general, a sample containing 15 to 20 squamous epithelial cells per high-powered field is considered normal. Above that level, the sample may be compromised. In such a circumstance, the physician will request a new sample.

What else besides contamination might high levels of squamous cells indicate?

A urinary tract infection may be indicated by the presence of a large number of cells in a new sample. In addition to yeast infection, kidney illness, and liver disease, moderate or high cell counts may also cause moderate or high levels of other diseases. Additionally, squamous epithelial cells have been associated to cancers. The most prevalent kind of oral cavity cancer and the second most prevalent form of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. The latter form spreads to other parts of the body, but is easily treatable if detected early.

If moderate or numerous squamous cells are detected, the physician will conduct more tests and analyse the patient’s symptoms to determine if a medical condition is present and what corrective steps can be performed.


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