Medical Dictionary Search Engines

Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.


Search For


Specialty Search




Other encyclopedia topics: A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9   

Ketones - urine

Alternative names

Ketone bodies - urine; Urine ketones: acetone, acetoacetic acid, and beta-hydroxybutyric acid


A test that measures the presence or absence of ketones in the urine.

How the test is performed

Child or adult:
Collect a "clean-catch" ("midstream") urine sample. To obtain a clean-catch sample, men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis . Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. As you start to urinate, allow a small amount to fall into the toilet bowl (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. Give the container to the health care provider or assistant.

Thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on your infant. For males, the entire penis can be placed in the bag and the adhesive attached to the skin. For females, the bag is placed over the labia. Place a diaper over the infant (bag and all). Check your baby frequently and remove the bag after the infant has urinated into it. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts--lively infants can displace the bag, causing an inability to obtain the specimen. The urine is drained into a container for transport back to the health care provider.

Urine ketones are usually measured as a "spot test" with a dipstick containing a color-sensitive pad impregnated with specific chemicals which react with ketone bodies. A color change is a qualitative indicator of the presence of ketones.

How to prepare for the test

A special diet may be recommended, and drugs that may affect the test results should be discontinued (see Special Considerations).

If the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary.

How the test will feel

The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

Ketones (beta-hydroxybutyric acid, acetoacetic acid, and acetone) are the end-product of rapid or excessive fatty acid breakdown. As with glucose, ketones are present in the urine when the blood levels surpass a certain threshold. Fatty acid release from adipose tissue is stimulated by a number of hormones including glucagon , epinephrine, and growth hormone . The levels of these hormones are increased in starvation (whether related to excess alcohol use or not), uncontrolled diabetes mellitus , and a number of other conditions.

Normal Values

A negative test result is normal. Results of the presence of acetone in the urine are usually listed as small, moderate or large with these corresponding values:

small <20 mg/dL

moderate 30-40 mg/dL

large <80 mg/dL

What abnormal results mean

A positive test may indicate
  • metabolic abnormalities, including uncontrolled diabetes or glycogen storage disease
  • abnormal nutritional conditions, including starvation, fasting, anorexia, high protein or low carbohydrate diets
  • protracted vomiting, including hyperemesis gravidarum
  • disorders of increased metabolism, including hyperthyroidism, fever, acute or severe illness, burns, pregnancy, lactation or following surgery

What the risks are

There are no risks.

Special considerations

Special diets may alter test results. For example, a diet consisting of low amounts of carbohydrates with high amounts of protein and fat may effect the ketone levels.

Drugs that may cause false positive measurements include glucocorticoids.

Update Date: 2/28/2002

Sarah Pressman Lovinger, M.D., general internist at Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

©2009 [Privacy Policy] [Disclaimer]
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT