Relative density of urine: methods and clinical significance

Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences
M PradellaF Rigolin


The physical properties and chemical composition of urine are highly variable and are determined in large measure by the quantity and the type of food consumed. The specific gravity is the ratio of the density to that of water, and it is dependent on the number and weight of solute particles and on the temperature of the sample. The weight of solute particles is constituted mainly of urea (73%), chloride (5.4%), sodium (5.1%), potassium (2.4%), phosphate (2.0%), uric acid (1.7%), and sulfate (1.3%). Nevertheless, urine osmolality depends only on the number of solute particles. The renal production of maximally concentrated urine and formation of dilute urine may be reduced to two basic elements: (1) generation and maintenance of a renal medullary solute concentration hypertonic to plasma and (2) a mechanism for osmotic equilibration between the inner medulla and the collecting duct fluid. The interaction of the renal medullary countercurrent system, circulating levels of antidiuretic hormone, and thirst regulates water metabolism. Renin, aldosterone, prostaglandins, and kinins also play a role. Clinical estimation of the concentrating and diluting capacity can be performed by relatively simple provocative tests. However, urinar...Continue Reading


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