A routine urine culture detects the amount of germs (like bacteria) present in the urine.
Once a urine sample is collected, a technician will keep it in conditions where microorganisms can multiply. Normally, no more than a small number of germs will be present in the urine if there's no infection. If a larger number of germs are present, the technician will use a microscope or chemical tests to determine the specific types growing in the culture. The technician also may run tests to determine which medications will be most effective against the microorganism if the doctor diagnoses an infection.
A urine culture is used to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) and determine what kinds of germs are causing it. The doctor may order a urine culture if your child:
No preparation other than cleansing the area around the urinary opening is required for the urine culture. Tell your doctor if your child is taking antibiotics or has taken them recently.
Collecting the specimen should only take a few minutes. Your child will be asked to urinate into a sterile sample cup in the doctor's office. If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a catheter (a narrow soft tube) may need to be inserted into the bladder to obtain the urine specimen.
The skin surrounding the urinary opening has to be cleaned just before the urine is collected. In this "clean-catch" method, you or your child cleans the skin around the urinary opening with a special towelette. Your child then urinates into the toilet, stops momentarily, and then urinates again into the collection container. Catching the urine in "midstream" is the goal. The container shouldn't touch your child's skin. Be sure to wash your hands and your child's hands before and after this process.
Sometimes it's preferable to collect a sample first thing in the morning after your child wakes up. If this is the case, you may be asked to help your child with the test at home. You'll take the sample to the lab, where a technician will test it for the presence of germs. Follow any storage and transportation instructions the lab gives you.
Because the test involves normal urination, there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen. (There may be temporary discomfort if a catheter was inserted to collect the urine.) It's important to keep the area around the urinary opening clean before the test and to catch the urine sample midstream.
The results of the urine culture will be available in 1-3 days. Your doctor will go over the results with you and explain what they mean.
No risks are associated with providing a sample for a urine culture. If a catheterized specimen is required, it may cause temporary discomfort. You can discuss any questions you have about this procedure with your healthcare provider.
Urinating to provide the specimen for the test is usually painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted and why it's being done can help ease any fear. Make sure your child understands that the urinary opening must be clean and the urine must be collected midstream.
If you have questions about the urine culture, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: February 2012
|National Kidney Foundation (NKF) NKF seeks to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation.|
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) The AAKP serves kidney patients and their families by helping them cope with the emotional, physical, and social impact of kidney failure.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Urine Test (Video) This video shows what it's like to get a urine test.|
|Getting a Urine Test (Video) If your doctor wants a urine sample, he or she means pee. It's easy to give a sample. Watch how this test is done in this video for kids.|
|Urine Tests Is your child having a urine culture or urinalysis performed? Find out why urine tests are performed, and what to expect when the doctor orders them.|
|Kidneys and Urinary Tract The bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a child's fist, perform several functions essential to health. Their most important role is to filter blood and produce urine.|
|Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Related Conditions Recurrent urinary tract infections can cause kidney damage if left untreated, especially in kids under age 6. Here's how to recognize the symptom of UTIs and get help for your child.|
|Urinary Tract Infections Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in kids, but often can be prevented. Early detection and treatment are key.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.