Urine Culture

What is Urine Culture?

A Urine Culture is a laboratory test to detect and identify organisms in a urine sample that may be causing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

When is Urine Culture performed?

A Urine Culture may be performed:

  • When there are UTI symptoms (dysuria, urinary frequency, feeling of heaviness in the bladder, burning sensation when urinating, pain in the renal region with fever).
  • When the patient shows no improvement despite the antibiotic treatment administered to treat the UTI.
  • As preventive screening in pregnant women (even if there are no symptoms, the presence of bacteria in the urine may affect fetal health and growth).
  • In neonates and children presenting with atypical symptoms, such as insufficient body weight gain.

Before the performance of some urological procedures, in order to make sure that there are no bacteria in the urine.

What preparation is needed for Urine Culture?

You should follow some instructions, so as to minimize the risk of contaminating the urine specimen. The steps to take are as follows:

  • The urine sample should always be collected in a sterile kit, that you will get from the pharmacy store.
  • It is preferable that the sample is taken from the first morning urine or when at least 3 hours have passed by since the previous urination.  In case of an emergency health problem that requires urine culture, these instructions can be overridden.
  • If you urinate very early in the morning, keep the urine in the refrigerator until transferred to the microbiological laboratory.

When taking the urine sample, make sure you do the following:

  • Wash thoroughly your genitalia with soap and water and then rinse well.
  • Remove carefully the lid of the sterile collecting container. Make sure it does not touch anywhere.
  • Let the first urine go and collect the sample from the middle of urination.
  • Close the container carefully, so as not to touch the interior of the collecting urine kit.
  • Take the urine specimen to the lab without any delay.

In special cases, the sample will be collected by your physician in a special way. Should this be necessary, you will be informed about the procedure.

How are the results of Urine Culture interpreted?

If the urine specimen shows no bacterial growth, the culture is negative. In the opposite case, the organism which has infected the urinary tract will be detected and identified. In order to take the proper decisions, the physician will take into account the symptoms, the way the sample was taken and the concentration of bacteria detected in the culture. Once identifying the bacterial strain, the laboratroy will also provide you a list of different  agents. There is description of the profile of the susceptibility/ resistance of the bacterial strain to every single antibiotic agent in the list.  This list is called ‘antibiogram’.

In some cases, the Microbiologist may report that many different types of bacteria have developed in mixed concentrations. This usually means that the sample has been superinfected, because it was not taken properly. In this case, the urine culture has to be repeated by taking a new sample.