Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine

Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine

Squamous epithelial cells are one of the three types of epithelial cells which line the urinary tract. Other two types of epithelial cells are transitional epithelial cells and renal tubular cells. All the above mentioned cells types are few among different types of epithelial tissues. Basically, epithelial tissues line the human glands, cavities and other structures of human body.

Squamous epithelial cells are flat skin cells, with angular or irregular outline. They also have small and thin nuclei with granular cytoplasm. They are bigger in size in comparison to its counterparts.  Presence of columnar squamous epithelial cells during urinalysis indicates pathological infection of kidneys or the urinary tract, as a result of which the urine is tarnished. Urine contamination is caused mainly due to improper collection of urine sample for urinalysis.

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Squamous epithelial cells form the inner lining of urinary tract. These cells collect along the skin of penis and vagina. Whenever you pass out urine; these cells, present along the skin, also flow along. As these cells stay for longer time and does not get washed away properly, they change their form to planar form and hence show signs of urine contamination. Therefore, whenever, you give sample to a pathologist for urinalysis, make sure that it is taken from first urine of the day. Also make sure that it is a midstream sample, which means that you allow passing urine for few seconds and thereafter take a sample in sterile bottle. If bottle is not sterile or contaminated, urinalysis will deduce positive results for urine infection. It is clear from this fact that if someone gets few squamous epithelial cells in urinalysis results, there is nothing to worry about, as they are present because of their presence along the walls of penis and vagina being washed out during sample collection. There is nothing to worry about!


Squamous epithelial cells are further divided into two categories: keratinized and non-keratinized squamous epithelial cells. Their distinctive traits are as follows:

Non-keratinized squamous epithelial cells

  • They are formed in the farthest part of urethra or vagina.
  • They have small nuclei and are larger than transitional cells.
  • They have one or more flat border.
  • They can be formed in any shape but are generally found to be round.

Keratinized squamous epithelial cells

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  • They are formed in the skin or the vulva.
  • They might not have a nuclei
  • They are large sized cells with angular borders.

Test for Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine

Centrifugation process is one of the most important steps of urinalysis. In this process, small amount of urine is taken as sample and placed in centrifugation machine. After centrifugation process is completed, sample is checked for the presence of sediments. These sediments are observed under microscope and hence presence of squamous epithelial cells is detected. If squamous epithelial cells are found in large quantity, as already discussed presence of squamous epithelial cells is due to contamination of urine sample, your pathologist might ask for fresh sample to confirm the same. This is so because if squamous epithelial cells are found in abundance, in fresh sample as well, it indicates presence of UTI or urinary tract infection. Also, if presence of renal tubular epithelial cells is found, it indicates possible inflammation of kidney, as these cells are formed in kidney.

One should get urinalysis done, at least one in a year. Urinalysis cost around $30 – $70, price varies from one pathology lab to another. Urinalysis is important as it gives vital information about smooth functioning of human glands or organs. It helps us in many ways:

  • Detection of diabetes by measurement of glucose level in the sample
  • Detection of stones in kidney or urethra by identification of crystals present, which could suggest origination of stones.
  • Information about functioning of liver can also be inferred by detection of bilirubin.
  • Detection of bacterial infection in urinary tract. This is confirmed due to presence of nitrite, converted from nitrate by bacteria.
  • Detection of large amount of RBCs or red blood cells suggest diseases related to kidney and urinary tract.

To summarize, it is suggested that you discuss your urinalysis results with your physician in detail as things might not turn out to be what it looks from the results. Whenever you go for urinalysis, make sure you collect the sample from the midstream in a sterile bottle. Not to forget, the sample should be collected from first urine of the day, as it is considered ideal for urinalysis. And most importantly, presence of squamous epithelial cells should not be considered a serious situation as it could be because of above discussed reasons or possibly due to contaminated urine sample.

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