urine culture

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Urine Culture



A urine culture is a diagnostic laboratory test performed to detect the presence of bacteria in the urine (bacteriuria).


Culture of the urine is a method of diagnosis for urinary tract infection that determines the number of microorganisms present in a given quantity of urine.


If delivery of the urine specimen to the laboratory within one hour of collection is not possible, it should be refrigerated. The health care provider should be informed of any antibiotics currently or recently taken.


There are several different methods for collection of a urine sample. The most common is the midstream clean-catch technique. Hands should be washed before beginning. For females, the external genitalia (sex organs) are washed two or three times with a cleansing agent and rinsed with water. In males, the external head of the penis is similarly cleansed and rinsed. The patient is then instructed to begin to urinate, and the urine is collected midstream into a sterile container. In infants, a urinary collection bag (plastic bag with an adhesive seal on one end) is attached over the labia in girls or a boy's penis to collect the specimen.
Another method is the catheterized urine specimen in which a lubricated catheter (thin rubber tube) is inserted through the urethra (tube-like structure in which urine is expelled from the bladder) into the bladder. This avoids contamination from the urethra or external genitalia. If the patient already has a urinary catheter in place, a urine specimen may be collected by clamping the tubing below the collection port and using a sterile needle and syringe to obtain the urine sample; urine cannot be taken from the drainage bag, as it is not fresh and has had an opportunity to grow bacteria at room temperature. On rare occasions, the health care provider may collect a urine sample by inserting a needle directly into the bladder (suprapubic tap) and draining the urine; this method is used only when a sample is needed quickly.
Negative culture results showing no bacterial growth are available after 24 hours. Positive results require 24-72 hours to complete identification of the number and type of bacteria found.


Drinking a glass of water 15-20 minutes before the test is helpful if there is no urge to urinate. There are no other special preparations or aftercare required for the test.


There are no risks associated with the culture test itself. If insertion of a urinary catheter (thin rubber tube) is required to obtain the urine, there is a slight risk of introducing infection from the catheter.

Normal results

No growth of bacteria is considered the normal result, and this indicates absence of infection.

Abnormal results

Abnormal results, or a positive test, where bacteria are found in the specimen, may indicate a urinary tract infection. Contamination of the specimen from hair, external genitalia, or the rectum may cause a false-positive result. Identification of the number and type of bacteria, with consideration of the method used in obtaining the specimen, is significant in diagnosis.
Escherichia coli causes approximately 80% of infections in patients without catheters, abnormalities of the urinary tract, or calculi (stones). Other bacteria that account for a smaller portion of uncomplicated infections include Proteus klebsiella and Enterobacter.



American Foundation for Urologic Disease. 300 West Pratt St., Suite 401, Baltimore, MD 21201.

Key terms

Bacteriuria — The presence of bacteria in the urine.

urine culture

The placing of urine in a culture medium to detect the growth of a pathogen–eg, gram-negative rods; UCs require a clean-catch, mid-stream specimen to minimize contamination by commensals on the external genitalia
References in periodicals archive ?
They specifically recommended decreasing urinalysis testing and increasing urine culture and STI testing.
For these patients, non-urinary symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to UTI, especially in the presence of positive urine culture and dipstick results.
A second aliquot was sent to the microbiology laboratory within 4 hours of sample collection for microscopy and urine culture.
The data of the patients whose urine cultures were found to be positive were screened retrospectively and their genders and ages were determined.
Practical bench comparison of BBL CHROMagar Orientation and standard two-plate media for urine cultures.
However, semiquantitative urine culture is a better method as it gives information about the organism load in the male urethra.
Urine microscopy detected yeast, subsequently identified as Candida glabrata by urine culture, and the patient was treated with fluconazole.
Medical tests that help identify, other conditions include a urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall and, in men, laboratory examination of prostate secretions.
8) Patients with pulmonary or disseminated TB may also have an incidentally positive urine culture for M.
Positive results of LE and NT are often used as a reflex to a urine culture (both in the presence and absence of clinical symptoms of UTI) or, in some cases, even to initiate empiric treatment while the culture results are pending.
A urine culture and sensitivity will often reveal Escherichia coli, but other less commonly found causative organisms may be detected as well.