A urine culture is used to identify urinary tract infections by obtaining a sample of "clean-catch" (midstream) urine.
In preparation for this test, males must clean the head of the penis. Females need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse or use disposable towelettes if provided. As the patient begins to urinate, they should allow a small amount to fall into the toilet bowel to clear the urethra of any contaminates. Then, in a sterile container, they should catch about three to six ounces of urine and then remove the container from the urine stream. The patient then gives the container containing the urine sample to their health care provider.
The urine sample will be sent out to a laboratory for evaluation. In the laboratory, a portion of the urine sample is cultured placed in an incubator at body temperature for 24 hours to determine if there is any growth of bacteria. If there is no growth at the end of that time, the culture is considered negative for significant number of microorganisms that could cause an infection. If bacteria are present, the total number of organisms are counted and identified.
In addition, antibiotics are identified that can be used to treat the infection.
The patient can resume their daily activities immediately following this test.