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Urine sample
Urine sample


Female urinary tract
Female urinary tract


Male urinary tract
Male urinary tract


Urine culture

Definition:

A urine culture is a lab test to check for bacteria or other germs in a urine sample.

It can be used to check for a urinary tract infection in adults and children .



Alternative Names:

Culture and sensitivity - urine



How the Test is Performed:

Most of the time, the sample will be collected as a clean catch urine sample in your health care provider's office or your home. You will use a special kit to collect the urine.

A urine sample can also be taken by inserting a thin rubber tube (catheter) through the urethra into the bladder. This is done by someone in your provider's office or at the hospital. The urine drains into a sterile container, and the catheter is removed.

Rarely, your provider may collect a urine sample by inserting a needle through the skin of your lower abdomen into your bladder.

The urine is taken to a lab to determine which, if any, bacteria or yeast are present in the urine. This takes 24 to 48 hours.



How to Prepare for the Test:

If possible, collect the sample when urine has been in your bladder for 2 to 3 hours.



How the Test Will Feel:

When the catheter is inserted, you may feel pressure. A special gel is used to numb the urethra.



Why the Test is Performed:

Your provider may order this test if you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, such as pain or burning when urinating.

You also may have a urine culture after you have been treated for an infection. This is to make sure that all of the bacteria are gone.



Normal Results:

"Normal growth" is a normal result. This means that there is no infection.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.



What Abnormal Results Mean:

A "positive" or abnormal test is when bacteria or yeast are found in the culture. This likely means that you have a urinary tract infection or bladder infection.

Other tests may help your provider know which bacteria or yeast are causing the infection and which antibiotics will best treat it.

Sometimes more than one type of bacteria, or only a small amount, may be found in the culture.



Risks:

There is a very rare risk of a hole (perforation) in the urethra or bladder if your health care provider uses a catheter.



Considerations:

You may have a false-negative urine culture if you have been taking antibiotics.



References:

Ban KM, Easter JS. Selected urologic problems. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 97.

Dean AJ, Lee DC. Bedside laboratory and microbiologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 68.

Hooton TM, Bradley SF, Cardenas DD, et al. Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of catheter-associated urinary tract infection in adults: 2009 International Clinical Practice Guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2010;50(5):625-663.




Review Date: 11/1/2014
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Hackettstown Medical Center

651 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
908-852-5100

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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