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Urine Culture

How It Feels

Collecting a urine sample does not cause pain.

Risks

There is no chance for problems while collecting a urine sample.

Results

A urine culture is a test to detect and identify organisms (usually bacteria) that may be causing a urinary tract infection (UTI). Urine culture results are usually ready in 1 to 3 days. Some organisms take longer to grow in the culture; for this reason, results may not be available for several days.

Urine culture
Normal:

No bacteria or other organisms (such as fungi) grow in the culture. The culture result is negative.

Abnormal:

Organisms (usually bacteria) grow in the culture. The culture result is positive.

A count of 100,000 or more bacteria per milliliter (mL) of urine may be caused by an infection. A count ranging from 100 to 100,000 could be either caused by infection or by contamination of the sample (you may need a repeat urine culture). If the count is 100 or less, infection is unlikely; however, a count of 100 or less may also be seen if you are already taking antibiotics.

If test results are positive, sensitivity testing may be done to help make decisions about treatment.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking antibiotics or just finished taking them.
  • Taking water pills (diuretics) or drinking a large amount of liquid. This may dilute your urine and reduce the number of bacteria in the sample.
  • Taking a lot of vitamin C.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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