Urine Microscopy and the Camera Phone

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I had a breakthrough with my iPhone 3G camera. I’ve tried unsuccessfully several times in the past to take pictures of urine microscopy fields through the lens of the microscope and had just about given up until I came across this NEJM letter to the editor that claimed it was doable.
The trick is to hold the lens of the camera phone about half a centimeter to a centimeter away from the eye piece. I found I needed to turn the intensity of the microscope light source down quite a bit to avoid whiting out the image. It’s a little tricky getting the field into focus but with a little practice is completely doable.

Above is an image I took of a granular cast in a sea of non-dysmorphic rbcs from a patient with ATN and foley trauma. As pointed out by the letter to editor one can take video to scroll around the slide so you can show your attending, housestaff or primary team who weren’t there with you what the urine microscopy looked like.


  1. How cool! Can't wait to do this with some synovial fluid.

  2. Taking a video instead of a picture while adjusting the focus could define RBC/Crystals better. But needs 2 people.

  3. I've also been doing this for about a year now. The problem I ran into is mostly poor color quality, sometimes making it hard to distinguish between RBC casts and WBC casts, especially if somewhat fragmented. Wondering how you guys dealt with that

  4. Since the nejm letter, we have been taking pics of all of our microscopy. Now have a nice collection of crystals, rbc casts, dysmorphic rbi, WBC casts etc.

    BTW You can zoom in too further using iPhone zoom

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