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Urine Culture Test

Last updated May 10, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Urine Culture Test is a urine test that helps detect the presence of microorganisms in the urine.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Urine Bacterial Culture Test
  • Urine C and S Test
  • Urine Culture and Sensitivity Test

What is Urine Culture Test? (Background Information)

  • Urine is a waste product produced by the kidneys and excreted through the urethra. It contains salts and other chemical byproducts resulting from various body functions
  • The kidneys are located on either side of the spine in the middle back. They filter blood and maintain blood pressure. Urine is essential to this role, as it is the means by which the kidneys excrete unwanted byproducts
  • Filtration occurs in the kidneys at millions of microscopic sieve-like structures called glomeruli. These sieves are very fine and normally prevent all but the smallest molecules from passing into urine
  • Urine is normally made up of salts and certain byproducts of metabolism. Additionally, breakdown products of therapeutic (and recreational) drugs are usually discarded through urine
  • Abnormalities in the makeup of urine can be caused by several factors. These include kidney disease, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and accumulations of substances in blood
  • UTIs occur when bacteria or, more rarely, yeast colonize the urethra, urinary bladder, or ureters. To get to these sites, the pathogens enter from the skin of the genitals
  • An individual with a UTI often expels urine contaminated with microorganisms. This is in contrast to normal urine, which should be sterile
  • UTIs affect women more often than men. This is because the female urethra is shorter than the male urethra, making it easier for pathogens to travel through it and infect the urinary passageway
  • Additionally, the female urethra is closer to the anus than the male urethra; it is also close to the vagina. Both of these areas teem with microbes that can potentially infect the urinary tract
  • The Urine Culture Test is a urine test that helps detect the presence of microorganisms in the urine. It is used to diagnose a urinary tract infection. It is also used to determine the sensitivity of UTI-causing microorganisms to antibiotics
  • Urine is cultured by applying it to sterile growth media under various conditions. If a growth is observed, the organism is identified and further analyzed

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Urine Culture Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Urine Culture Test:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Discolored or bloody urine
  • Urine with a foul odor
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgency to urinate with ‘little to no urine’ produced

How is the Specimen Collected for Urine Culture Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Urine Culture Test:

Sample required: Urine

Process: Collection of mid-stream urine into a sterile container; usually collected first thing in the morning.

Preparation required: To avoid contamination, the genitals must be cleaned properly prior to this test. Proper cleaning involves wiping the tip of the penis or cleaning the vagina from front to back (to avoid introducing fecal matter into the sample inadvertently).

What is the Significance of the Urine Culture Test Result?

A Urine Culture Test that detects microorganisms in the urine may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI).

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 15, 2015
Last updated: May 10, 2019