AUA Summit - What is a Urine Culture Sample?


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What is a Urine Culture Sample?

A urine culture is used to identify a urinary tract infection with a sample of "clean-catch" (midstream) urine.

What to Expect

To prepare for this test, males must wipe the head of their penis with a sterile wipe. Females should use a sterile wipe or soapy water to wash and rinse the vaginal area. It can be done in the bathroom of your doctor’s office.

To get a clean sample, you should first allow a small amount of urine to fall into the toilet. Then, in a sterile container, collect about three to six ounces. The container can be removed from the urine stream after enough is collected. You would then give the sample to your health care provider for testing.

If your urine must be collected with a catheter, there could be a risk of urinary tract infection. Your health care team should take extra care to prevent infections in this case.

The urine sample can be sent to a lab for more careful evaluation, or tested in the doctor’s office. Part of the urine sample is placed in a culture and kept at body temperature in an incubator for 24 hours. If there is no bacterial growth at the end of that time, the culture is negative. If bacteria are present, the number of organisms are counted and identified. Antibiotics are chosen to treat the infection based on the bacteria present.

You can expect to learn the test’s results within 1-3 days after the culture.

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