Clinical Utility of Noninvasive Method to Measure Specific Gravity in the Pediatric Population

Jeanine E. Hall, Pauline P. Huynh, Ameer P. Mody, Vincent J. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Clinicians rely on any combination of signs and symptoms, clinical scores, or invasive procedures to assess the hydration status in children. Noninvasive tests to evaluate for dehydration in the pediatric population are appealing. Objective: The objective of our study is to assess the utility of measuring specific gravity of tears compared to specific gravity of urine and the clinical assessment of dehydration. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort convenience sample study, in a pediatric emergency department at a tertiary care children's hospital. We approached parents/guardians of children aged 6 months to 4 years undergoing transurethral catheterization for evaluation of urinary tract infection for enrollment. We collected tears and urine for measurement of tear specific gravity (TSG) and urine specific gravity (USG), respectively. Treating physicians completed dehydration assessment forms to assess for hydration status. Results: Among the 60 participants included, the mean TSG was 1.0183 (SD = 0.007); the mean USG was 1.0186 (SD = 0.0083). TSG and USG were positively correlated with each other (Pearson Correlation = 0.423, p = 0.001). Clinical dehydration scores ranged from 0 to 3, with 87% assigned a score of 0, by physician assessment. Mean number of episodes of vomiting and diarrhea in a 24-hour period were 2.2 (SD = 3.9) and 1.5 (SD = 3.2), respectively. Sixty-two percent of parents reported decreased oral intake. Conclusion: TSG measurements yielded similar results compared with USG. Further studies are needed to determine if TSG can be used as a noninvasive method of dehydration assessment in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-446
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • dehydration
  • pediatric emergency medicine
  • pediatrics
  • specific gravity
  • tears
  • urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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