UMEM Educational Pearls

Making the wee patient pee – a non invasive urinary collection technique in the newborn

Obtaining a urinary sample in a neonate can be challenging and time consuming. The most commonly used non-invasive technique is urine collection using a sterile bag. This technique is limited by patient discomfort and contamination of the urinary sample. Catheterisation and needle aspiration are other options, but are more invasive.

A prospective feasibility and safety study enrolled 90 admitted infants aged under 30 days who needed a urine sample into the study [1]. They performed the following stimulation technique.


1.     Feed the baby through breast-feeding or an appropriate amount of formula for their age and weight.

2.     Wait twenty-five minutes. After twenty-five minutes clean the infant’s genitals thoroughly with warm water and soap. Dry with sterile gauze.

3.     Have an assistant hold a sterile urine container near the infant

4.     Hold the baby under their armpits with their legs dangling (if short handed, parents can do this)

5.     Gently tap the suprapubic area at a frequency of 100 taps or blows per minute for 30 seconds

6.     Massage the lumbar paravertebral zone lightly for 30 seconds

7.     Repeat both techniques until micturition starts. Collect midstream urine in the sterile container

In the study, success was defined as obtaining a midstream urinary sample within 5 minutes after initiation of the stimulation procedure. There was a 86% success rate (n=69/80). Mean time to sample collection was 57 seconds. There were no complications, but controlled crying occurred in 100% of infants.  The study was limited by the lack of a control group. Previous studies have described longer collection times with traditional non invasive techniques, up to over an hour [2].


Consider the above mentioned stimulation technique to obtain a urinary sample in the neonate.



1. Herreros Fernández ML, González Merino N, Tagarro García A, et al.  A new technique for fast and safe collection of urine in newborns. Arch Dis Child. 2013 Jan;98(1):27-9.

2. Davies P, Greenwood R, Benger J. Randomised trial of a vibrating bladder stimulator--the time to pee study. Arch Dis Child. 2008 May;93(5):423-4.