Culture test

Some diseases may be caused by microorganisms so there would be infection in any part of your body. Doctor may recommend you to have a culture test after the medical examination. Culture test can identify the kind of bacteria that cause the infection and the right antibiotics to cure the infection. Culture test identifies the bacteria and the antibiogram determines which antibiotics the bacteria are sensitive for so it is called antibiotic sensitivity test.

Culture Test Stepsculture test

Sample must be collected carefully from the infected area of the body.  For exp.

Ilness of ear- ear drainage culture

Urinary tract infection- urine culture

Skin and wound infections- wound culture

Central nervous system infection- Cerebrospinal fluid ( CSF) culture

Sore throat- throat culture

Lung infection- sputum culture

Sepsis- blood culture

These all kinds of body fluids and tissues are inoculated to mediums in medical laboratories with special techniques. These mediums are waited (incubation period) for a period to allow bacteria for growing. Then bacteria will be multiplied to thousands or millions and  may be identified easily. This process is called Culture or bacterial culture. Testing the sensitivity of bacteria for antibiotics is called antibiogram.

Culture test results

Sterile conditions are the main function to have a correct culture test result. Sample collection from patient, sample transporting, culture inoculation and culture evaluation steps all must be processed in sterile conditions to have a correct result.Transporting the sample to laboratory as soon as possible is an another important fact that affects culture test results.

Culture Test Types

Actually culture test can be done with any sample from the body. Skin or nail scraping samples, fluids taken from knee joint or a tissue part taken during a surgical operation even can be a culture sample. Cultures are named same as the body part they are taken.


Here some common culture test types

  • Throat (swab) culture: Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Blood culture: Determining microorganisms in blood circulation
  • Peritoneal fluid culture: For microorganisms in peritoneal (abdominal) cavity / peritonitis
  • Pleural effusion culture: Lung infections
  • Stool (fecal) culture: For gastrointestinal diseases
  • Nose culture: Infections in nasal cavity
  • Ear drainage culture: Infections in ear
  • Urine culture: Urinary tract infections
  • Burn wound swab culture: Infections in burned parts of the body
  • Cerebrospinal fluid ( CSF) culture: Central nervous system infection
  • Wound drainage ( abscess) culture: For determining organisms that cause wound and abscess on skin
  • Sputum culture: Lungs and breathing passages’ infections
  • Semen (sperm) culture: Infections of male reproductive system, for exp. prostatitis.
  • Endocervical (vaginal) culture: Infections of female genital tract
  • Conjunctiva (eye) culture: Infections of eyes (conjunctivitis)

All the culture test types above have different methods of colllecting; some can be taken with sterile syringe, some with sterile cotton swab or can be collected in a sterile plastic culture cup.

Culture Medium/ Culture media

The purpose of sample collection from infected organ is to provide a living and growing place for the microorganisms and make identifying them easier.This living place is called culture medium ( culture media). All kinds of microorganism can’t  live in the same type of culture medium. Some kinds grow in same typical (common) kind of culture medium but some microorganisms need special living medium; these are special culture mediums called differential media. These differential media contain varios chemicals to distinguish microorganisms.


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