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Urine Culture

What To Think About

  • A urine culture done in the early stage of a urinary tract infection (UTI) may be less accurate than one that is done after the infection becomes established.
  • A urine culture may be done when an abnormal result from a urinalysis (such as an increased number of white blood cells) shows signs of an infection. To learn more, see the topic Urine Test.
  • A urine culture may be repeated after the UTI has been treated to make sure the infection is cured.
  • A health professional may collect a urine sample by placing a urinary catheter into the bladder. This method is sometimes used to collect urine from a person in the hospital who is very ill or unable to provide a clean-catch sample. Using a catheter to collect a urine sample reduces the chance of getting bacteria from the skin or genital area in the urine sample, but catheter use sometimes causes a UTI.
  • People who have a urinary catheter in place for a long time are at high risk for developing a UTI.
  • Collecting a urine sample from a small child or baby may be done by using a special plastic bag with tape around its opening (a U bag). The bag is attached around the child's genitals until he or she urinates (usually within an hour). Then the bag is carefully removed. To collect a urine sample from a very sick baby, a doctor may insert a needle through the baby's abdomen directly into the bladder (suprapubic tap).
  • To diagnose tuberculosis that has spread to the urinary tract, a special test will be done using all of the first morning urine on three separate days.
  • Sensitivity testing helps your doctor choose the best medicine to treat specific types of bacteria or fungus that may be causing a UTI.
  • Some types of bacteria or fungi may take several weeks to grow in the culture.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

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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