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Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

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Get the facts. And the help you need.

Urine Culture Sample

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.



Reviewed January 2011

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Urine Culture Sample Glossary
  • antibiotic: Drug that kills bacteria or prevents them from multiplying.

  • bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms that can exist independently (free-living) or dependently upon another organism for life (parasite). They can cause infection and are usually treated with antibiotics.

  • bowel: Another word for intestines or colon.

  • culture: Biological material grown under special conditions.

  • infection: A condition resulting from the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms.

  • ions: Electrically charged atoms.

  • microorganism: A tiny organism such as a virus that can only be seed under a microscope.

  • penis: The male organ used for urination and sex.

  • sterile: Incapable of becoming pregnant or inducing pregnancy.Can also mean free from living germs or microorganisms.

  • urethra: A tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In males, the urethra serves as the channel through which semen is ejaculated and it extends from the bladder to the tip of the penis. In females, the urethra is much shorter than in males.

  • urinary: Relating to urine.

  • urinary tract: The system that takes wastes from the blood and carries them out of the body in the form of urine. Passageway from the kidneys to the ureters, bladder and urethra.

  • urinary tract infection: Also referred to as UTI. An illness caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or yeast growing in the urinary tract.

  • urinate: To release urine from the bladder to the outside. Also referred to as void.

  • urine: Liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and expelled from the body through the urethra by the act of urinating (voiding). About 96 percent of which is water and the rest waste products.

  • urine culture: Sample of urine for diagnostic purposes.

  • vagina: The tube in a woman's body that runs beside the urethra and connects the uterus (womb)to the outside of the body. Sometimes called the birth canal. Sexual intercourse, the outflow of blood during menstruation and the birth of a baby all take place through the vagina.

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