Evaluation of the analytical variability of dipstick protein pads in canine urine


BackgroundThe dipstick is a first-line and inexpensive test that can exclude the presence of proteinuria in dogs. However, no information is available about the analytical variability of canine urine dipstick analysis. ObjectivesThe aim of this study was to assess the analytical variability in 2 dipsticks and the inter-operator variability in dipstick interpretation. MethodsCanine urine supernatants (n = 174) were analyzed with 2 commercially available dipsticks. Two observers evaluated each result blinded to the other observer and to the results of the other dipstick. Intra- and inter-assay variability was assessed in 5 samples (corresponding to the 5 different semi-quantitative results) tested 10 consecutive times over 5 consecutive days. The agreement between observers and between dipsticks was evaluated with Cohen's k test. ResultsIntra-assay repeatability was good (3/10 errors), whereas inter-assay variability was higher (from 1/5 to 4/5 discordant results). The concordance between the operators (k = 0.68 and 0.79 for the 2 dipsticks) and that of the dipsticks (k = 0.66 and 0.74 for the 2 operators) was good. However, 1 observer and 1 dipstick overestimated the results compared with the second observer or dipstick. In any case, discordant results accounted for a single unit of the semi-quantitative scale. ConclusionsAs for any other method, analytic variability may affect the semi-quantitation of urinary proteins when using the dipstick method. Subjective interpretation of the pad and, to a lesser extent, intrinsic staining properties of the pads could affect the results. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the effect of this variability on clinical decisions

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