Although historically sterile pyuria (SP) has been associated with genitourinary (GU) tuberculosis, there are many more common causes to consider in the hospitalized patient (1-3).
Recent antibiotic exposure (within past 2 weeks) in the setting of UTI is one of the most frequent causes. Prostatitis is also an often overlooked cause. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis should also be considered in at risk patients. Hospitalized patients with systemic infections outside of the GU tract (e.g. pneumonia, appendicitis, diverticulitis) may also have SP (1-3). High prevalence of SP (>70%) has been reported among patients with appendicitis or diverticulitis (2).
Non-infectious causes include current or recent catheterization of bladder, urinary stones, stents, GU malignancy, papillary necrosis, Kawasaki’s disease, autoimmune diseases (eg, SLE) and analgesic nephropathy.
I would start with repeating the u/a as 50% of sterile pyuria may be transient (3). If repeat u/a still shows pyuria, a prostate exam in our elderly male is indicated to exclude prostatitis.
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- Wise GJ, Schlegel PN. Sterile pyuria. N Engl J Med 372;11:1048-54. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMra1410052
- Goonewardene S, Persad R. Sterile pyuria: a forgotten entity. Ther Adv urol 2015; 7:295-298. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549703/
- Hooker JB, Mold JW, Kumar S. Sterile pyuria in patients admitted to the hospital with infections outside of the urinary tract. J Am Board Fam Med 2014;2&:97-103. https://www.jabfm.org/content/27/1/97.long#T1
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