Throat culture is a laboratory test that is used to check for an infection in throat. In normal conditions some kinds of bacteria are living in different parts of body with us, they are harmless even some kinds are useful like intestinal bacteria. This microrganisms are called flora. In throat there are throat flora living and don’t cause any infection. % 90 of throat infections are caused by viruses and % 10 are bacteria. Viruses can’t be identified with throat culture but bacteria can be determined in culture media and can be identified with the help of throat culture laboratory test.
Which bacteria are important in throat culture ?
Group A streptococcus ( beta-hemolytic streptococcus) bacteria are the most important and contagious bacteria that can cause throat infection. This infection causes severe sore throat, rheumatic fever, chills, pain when swallowing, red tonsils.
Purpose of Throat Culture
Main purpose of throat culture is to find the right medicines for treatment. Throat culture provides bacteria identifying so necessary antibiotics can be determined with laboratory tests. If the causative bacteria are known then antibiogram test can be done to see which antibiotics are effective to that bacteria. These laboratory test help diagnosis, prevents money loss because of wrong medicine usage, prevents bacteria resistance by wrong antibiotic usage .
If the right treatment is not done with right antibiotics these bacteria may cause kidney disease and heart disease so the treatment will be very hard and expensive by comparison to use throat culture and antibiotic sensitivity test.
How the throat culture test is performed ?
Sterile culture materials and culture cups are needed for throat culture test same as other culture tests. Sterile conditions are so important to prevent contamination during sample collection process. Culture sample collection with sterile materials provides correct test results for treatment.
Your doctor will use a sterile cotton swab to collect bacteria samples from your throat. You will need to open your mouth wide to help collection and doctor will rub the sterile swab to your tonsils. Doctor may press your tongue down with a stick tongue depressor to prevent contamination from other parts of your mouth. After rubbing the swab to tonsils, the swab will be placed into transport media until delivering to laboratory, this transport media tube prevents contaminaton and protects the causative bacteria of infection during the transport period to laboratory. You may gag during the throat culture sample collection but you must not close your mouth and try not to gag to prevent contamination.
Patient preparation for Throat Culture Test
Antiseptic mouthwash solution must not be used before throat culture test. Mouthwash with water or brushing teeth without any toothpaste would be useful. If you use any antibiotics please inform your doctor about this.
Throat Culture Test Procedure
Inoculation of culture must be done as soon as possible to protect causative bacteria.
Cotton swab is rubbed in a culture media to spread bacteria to whole culture media, this is inoculation.
Inoculated throat culture media is waited for 24 hours in a certain temperature for bacteria growth, this process is incubation.
If there are no bacteria growth in throat culture media after incubation period culture report will be negative; means clear from the bacteria or fungal infection. Cause of infection may be a virus too and can’t be seen in culture test. This waiting period is 24 hours long.
If bacteria growth occurs after incubation, antibiotic sensitivity test must be done to determine the effective antibiotics for that bacteria, this is important for a quick and complete treatment. Antibiogram test needs one more day for incubation. Bacteria must be incubated in a culture media with antibiotics for 24 hours again and sensitive or resistant antibiotics can be determined at the end of this period.
As we see haphazard medicine usage can’t be useful for treatment at the same time it causes bacteria resistance to antibiotics and treatment will be very hard than before. Only 2 simple laboratory tests; throat culture and antibiogram prevent time loss, money loss and serious diseases and help your doctor about choosing the right treatment for you.