Squamous Epithelial Cells in Urine

A urinalysis is a form of assessment that checks the urine if there are health problems present with a person. Through the urine, it can be detected what type of illness one has. The number of epithelial cells, like squamous epithelial cells, indicates information about where the source of sickness is coming.  

doctor pouring sample of urine from test tube to small plastic cup

A urinalysis is a form of assessment that checks the urine if there are health problems present with a person. Through the urine, it can be detected what type of illness does one have like kidney disease, urinary tract infection, and diabetes. One way of finding it is through the number of epithelial cells, like squamous epithelial cells, as it indicates information about where the source of sickness is coming.  

What Are Epithelial Cells?

Epithelial cells are all over our body, inside and outside. The skin on our hands and the internal cover of our body from throat, intestines, and all other organs are made of millions of connected epithelial cells. It functions as our safety shield, standing as our first line of defense against viruses penetrating our body. It too is capable of flexibility as one can stretch and move body parts with ease. And finally, it has a special function linked with the brain, called receptors. It helps the body collect signals from the environment sending information to the brain allowing us to feel and taste.

Other Types Of Epithelial Cells

Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells

Renal Tubular Epithelial Cell is a type of cell that is columnar in shape and has an elongated nucleus that is present in the kidneys. A strong presence of a renal tubular epithelial cell in the urine may be a sign of an illness about kidneys.

Transitional Epithelial Cells

Transitional Epithelial Cell is a type of cell that is present in the uterus and bladder. It is mostly found in men, especially with older men. Having many transitional epithelial cells in the urine will show urinary tract infection.

What is the Squamous Epithelial Cell?

Squamous Epithelial Cell is a kind of epithelial cell present in many parts of the body like the vagina and urethra. It is flat with irregular outline skin cells that are 5 nuclei large. It requires a smooth and thin surface as a tissue covering found in the blood vessel and air sacs of the lungs. If squamous cells are seen in the urinalysis, it tells that the specimen is contaminated.

Urine and Squamous Epithelial Cells

Urine is liquid produce of metabolism that flows from the kidney, the ureter, and to the urinary bladder. This is the primary specimen used in urinalysis to track internal infections and diseases inside the body. Doctors use urinalysis to check any bacteria that may cause infection. If a urine sample has squamous epithelial cells it indicates a certain degree of contamination according to standards.

The standard for the normal range is 15-20 squamous epithelial cells/HPF. Having a record more than the standard range tells that the urine specimen is contaminated. So a new specimen sample must be taken again for assessment. Meanwhile, if squamous epithelial cells are absent from the urine sample this is an indicator of a urinary tract infection.

Looking Further in Urinalysis

This test is about the chemical content of the urine to get more details in treating a person’s condition. Epithelial cells can help determine infection through the following:

  • An increase in the number of epithelial cells in urine is a sign of illness.
  • A small number of epithelial cells indicate healthy urine.

Doing the urinalysis process is very simple, the patient will receive a container, a sterile pad, to collect and put the urine samples inside. It is important that there is no contamination in the container. Keeping it dry and not touching the inside of the specimen cup with hands will avoid minimal contamination.

Measuring the levels of different substances in the urine. Here are some of the reasons why urinalysis is important:

  • If there are symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Kidney Infection.
  • If there is a raised number of epithelial cells in a person’s urine.

After filling the specimen, the urine sample is sent to a laboratory for it to be analyzed about its contents. Here are the guide results of the urine sample for  Epithelial Cell :

  • Few:  results are normal
  • Moderate: has a medical condition
  • Many: has a medical condition

Other Factors Used for Identification

Aside from the number of epithelial cells, there are other factors used as indicators for health. These are the following:


This refers to how clear the urine is. There are stages for clarity in identifying urine such as clear, slightly cloudy, cloudy, and turbid.

pH Level

This is the acidity test for urinalysis. For neutral acidity level, it is scored as 7.0 while the higher the number it is described as alkaline. Lower than 7.0 signifies that the urine is acidic.


The smell test for the urine. It should not have a strong smell, although the odor may vary in most cases. As food consumed may influence the smell of the urine like taking medication. Dehydration can cause a strong scent for urine because of ammonia.


Protein present in urine tells that the kidneys are damaged, a sign of kidney disease. Proteinuria is the presence of protein in the urine as albumin leaks from the blood into the urine. This could also be a result of the overproduction of proteins in the body from multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.


A high number more than the standard range of 0 to 0.8 millimoles per liter is a sign of a health problem. The most common cause of an elevated glucose level in the urine is diabetes. Renal glycosuria may also cause urine glucose to rise as blood glucose levels are normal.

Cancer and Squamous Epithelial Cells

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cervix and skin cancer. For skin cancer, it is located in the damaged areas of the body by UV rays from the sun. These are normally the exposed part of the skin from the sun like head, neck, arms, legs, and hands. While for cervical cancer, squamous epithelial cells have taken an abnormal shape and may become high-grade squamous epithelial lesions (HSIL) which has a high tendency of becoming cervical cancer. These cancers are caused by an infection called Human Papillomavirus. It transforms the squamous cell into a cancer infection substance that can also infect and transform other cells of other tissues in the body.   


Epithelial cells are a very interesting part of our body as they provide protection against viruses. Understanding how they work and how they are processed gives us information about how doctors provide urine tests and base their decisions from specimens they gathered. It is important to go to the doctor when you feel there is something unusual with your urine or skin, as there may be some complications that are already brewing. Talking to the doctor and discussing what needs to be done is very important especially when diagnosed positive so that remedies can be provided right away.

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