Squamous Epithelial Cells in a Urinalysis: What Do They Mean?

According to the John Hopkins Lupus Center, the presence of squamous epithelial cells in a urine sample is frequently a sign that the sample has been tainted.

However, as Lab Tests Online says, epithelial cells can also signify urogenital issues, such as infections, inflammation, and cancers. Based on a microscopic examination, clinicians typically classify the number of squamous epithelial cells in a urine sample as few, moderate, or many. While “moderate” and “many” can denote the presence of a medical issue, “few” refers to a normal range.

Squamous epithelial cells: what are they?

Squamous epithelial cells cover a specific structure or cavity and can be found in many different locations throughout the body. Although they are frequently viewed of just skin cells, there are really several layers of the human body that they cover, both internally and externally. Squamous cells, for instance, are found in the mouth, cervix, and middle layers of skin.

Squamous epithelial cells lack a cube-like structure and are flat and thin. They have a substantial surface area and are the thinnest form of epithelial cell. They are important for filtration and diffusion because their form makes it simple for molecules to pass through their membrane.

What Steps Are Taken in a Microscopic Examination?

Centrifuging a test tube of urine to separate the components is a step in the microscopic urinalysis process. The top layer, or supernatant, is discarded. The residual urine and urine sediment are next examined under a low-power microscope for analysis.

This recognises casts, crystals, and squamous cells. The sample is then subjected to a high-powered analysis to detect bacteria, extra cells, such as red and white blood cells, or cell clumping.

What Additional Epithelial Cell Types Can Be Found in a Urine Analysis?

The urinary tract is lined with three different types. Renal tubular cells, transitional cells, and squamous cells are all present.

According to Lab Tests Online, the type of epithelial cells found in a urine sample can assist a doctor establish whether the cells are coming from the kidneys, urethra, bladder, or another source. While transitional cells are located in the bladder and uterus, renal tubular cells are found in the kidneys.

Is It Normal to Have Squamous Epithelial Cells at a Certain Level in Urine?

Urinary squamous epithelial cell absence may be a sign of a urinary tract infection. A sample of 15–20 squamous epithelial cells/hpf is typically regarded as normal. Anything above that denotes the possibility of contamination in the sample. In that situation, the physician will ask for a fresh sample.

What Else Might High Levels of Squamous Cells Indicate Besides Contamination?

In another, recent sample, a high cell count would point to a urinary tract infection. A yeast infection, renal disease, and liver disease are only a few possible medical disorders brought on by moderate to numerous cells.

Various cancers have also been linked to squamous epithelial cells. The second most frequent type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which is also the most prevalent type of cancer of the oral cavity. The latter spreads to other bodily regions but is easily treated if discovered in its early stages.

The doctor will perform additional tests and assess the patient’s symptoms if moderate or numerous squamous cells are discovered in order to determine the presence of a medical issue and what steps may be taken to treat it.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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