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Culture Urine

Also Known As: Urine Analysis, Urine Culture And Sensitivity Test, Urine Culture Test, Urine Test

What Is A Culture Urine, Routine Test?

Urine culture is a test that helps find germs and bacteria in your urine sample causing an infection. Your urinary tract includes the kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that carry your urine, like the ureters and urethra. Bacteria and other germs can enter through your urethra and cause a severe urinary tract infection. Even though the infection usually starts in the bladder or the tube where urine comes out, this condition can affect almost any system. During the test, a sample of your urine will be added to a substance that helps promote the growth of germs and bacteria. If no further germs grow, the culture will be negative. However, the test results will demonstrate a clear positive if bacterial growth is present.

Urinary tract infections are more common in girls and women than boys and men. It mainly occurs because the female urethra is short and closer to the anus. This arrangement allows bacteria and germs from the intestines to come into contact with the urethra, causing invariant urinary tract infections. Men usually have some antibacterial substance in their prostate gland that lowers the risk of developing UTIs.

If you have any infection, there may be a burning sensation when you urinate. You may also feel like you need to use the restroom, but nothing or very little urine comes out. If you are also experiencing belly pain and fever, it can indicate a severe infection.

What Is The Test Used For?

Your doctor, physician, or health care provider can recommend a urine culture test to check for urinary tract infections or a UTI. A urinary tract infection can occur when infection-causing bacteria enter your urethra. The urethra is a tube that carries urine out of your body. The infection usually begins in your bladder (i.e., the organ that holds urine) and then spreads to your Kidneys (i.e., organs that produce urine) and prostate.

In some cases, a urine culture test is also performed to identify the yeast or bacteria causing the urinary tract infection. This way, your health care provider or doctor can select the most effective and instant treatment plan for you and determine if the bacteria is resistant to any antibiotics.

The procedure also serves as a screening process for pregnant women with asymptomatic bacteriuria. It is a condition in which significant amounts of bacteria are present in the urine without any symptoms. Pregnant women with this condition are prone to serious kidney infection and an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight.

Why And When Do You Need A Culture, Urine, Routine Test?

A urine culture is often suggested when you have symptoms of urinary tract infection or when a urine analysis demonstrates that you have a UTI.

The signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Lower back pain
  • A strong, frequent urge to urinate even when you have just gone to the washroom
  • Cloudy and strong-smelling urine
  • Pain and burning sensation during urination
  • Pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Small amounts of blood in the urine ( in rare cases)
  • Flank pain, high fever, shaking chills, nausea/ vomiting ( when the infection spreads into the kidneys)

You are also likely to take the test if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Frequent sexual intercourse, especially with new partners
  • If you use spermicides
  • Kidney diseases like a kidney stone
  • Problem draining your bladder fully
  • Weakened immune system due to an autoimmune disorder, cancer treatment, or organ transplant

What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?

Before the test, you must clean your genital area because the bacteria and cells from the surrounding skin can contaminate the urine sample. Start by washing your hands. If you are a woman, spread the labia of the vagina and clean from front to back using a wipe provided by your doctor or health care practitioner at the lab. On the other hand, men should wipe the tip of their penis before collecting the urine sample. Start to urinate and let the initial urine fall into the toilet. Collect one or two ounces of urine directly into the sterile container and void the rest of it into the lavatory. Never allow the insides of the container to come into contact with your skin, and refrain from scooping the urine from the toilet or any other container.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

Usually, no preparation is required, but your doctor will provide you with the necessary instructions based on the type of culture. It is best to drink a glass of water at least half an hour before sample collection to ensure that you can give out enough urine for the test.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

Collecting a urine sample is not painful unless you are already experiencing pain due to an existing urinary tract infection. If your doctor recommends a urine sample with a catheter, you might feel a little pressure or discomfort during the procedure. However, the catheter tubes are always lubricated to make the procedure easy and painless.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

The test results of a urine culture are often examined in combination with other tests like urine analysis. Since some urine samples are susceptible to contamination with bacteria normally found on the skin, extra care is required for the proper interpretation of the culture results.

Positive results

If your test results show positive urine culture, it indicates the presence of a single type of bacteria growing with high colony counts. Here, the results from a urine analysis can also be used to interpret your results. If your culture is still positive, you may need to undergo susceptibility testing to accumulate the guided treatment. Even though a wide range of bacteria can lead to urinary tract infections, most are due to E.coli bacteria commonly found in the digestive tract and stool. Other bacteria responsible for causing UTIs are enterobacter, staphylococcus, and acinetobacter.

Negative results

If your culture reports no obvious growth in 24-48 hours, it means there is no infection. If the symptoms last, your doctor can perform the test again to look for the presence of bacteria with a lower colony count.


If your test results show the growth of several different kinds of bacteria, it can be due to contamination. This is especially true with voided urine samples and if the organisms present are non-pathogenic vaginal bacteria and lactobacillus.

Related Tests: Urine analysis, Blood Culture Test, Gram Stain Test.

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