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Urine Culture: Teen Version



  • A urine culture is a test to see if there are bacteria in your urine.
  • This test is done to see if you have an infection, and which antibiotic medicine will best treat the infection.
  • You may be asked to urinate into a sterile cup. In some cases, a thin flexible tube may be passed into the urethra and up into the bladder to collect a sample of urine. The sample will then be sent to the lab.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.


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. It may be done if the results of a urine test are not normal. 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 out of your body

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. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines and supplements you take. 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 child’s healthcare provider how and when you will get your child’s test results.

What does the test result mean?

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

Usually a positive test result means you have a urinary tract infection. A single type of bacteria growing at high counts is a positive urine culture. However, the result could be positive when you don't have a true infection. For example, if the sample was not collected properly and too many bacteria from your skin got into the sample. This is called a contaminated specimen and the culture results will show this.

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 Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2022-01-03
Last reviewed: 2017-06-02
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.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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