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Urine Culture: Teen Version

What is a urine culture?

A urine culture is a test to see if there are bacteria in your urine.

Why is this test done?

A urine culture is done to diagnose an infection in the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes your:

  • Kidneys, which make urine
  • Ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Bladder, which stores urine
  • Urethra, which is the tube that drains urine from the bladder

The test will tell your healthcare provider:

  • If you have an infection
  • What kind of bacteria are causing the infection
  • Which antibiotic medicine will best treat the infection

Sometimes the test is done after treatment to make sure an infection is gone.

How do I prepare for this test?

You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. Don't stop any of your regular medicines without first consulting with your healthcare provider.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

There are 2 methods for collecting a urine specimen: the clean-catch method and the catheterization method.

  • For the clean-catch method, you clean your genital area with special wipes provided, start urinating, and then catch some of the urine in a sterile cup.
  • The catheterization method may be used if you have trouble with the clean-catch method or if a sample is needed from an infant or young child or from someone who cannot control their urine. Your healthcare provider cleans the genital area and then passes a thin flexible tube into the urethra and up into the bladder to collect a sample of urine.

The urine is sent to the lab and tested. If you have an infection, it may take several days to find out what kind of germ is causing it.

Ask your health care provider when and how you will get the result of your test.

What does the test result mean?

A negative test result is a normal result, which means no bacteria grew in the culture and you probably do not have an infection.

Usually a positive test result means you have a urinary tract infection. However, the result could be positive when you don't have an infection if too many bacteria from your skin got into the sample.

What if my test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as:

  • If you need more tests
  • What kind of treatment you might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes you might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-10
Last reviewed: 2015-02-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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