Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Urine Test: Routine Culture

What Is a Urine Test?

Testing a urine sample can help doctors find out what's going on when someone has an infection or other problem in kidneys, bladder, or other parts of the urinary tract.

To help your child get ready for a urine test, find out if they need to avoid any specific foods or activity before the test, or should stop taking any medicines.

Urine tests are painless. To help ease any fears, explain in simple terms how the test is done and why it's needed. Make sure your child understands that the urinary opening (urethra) must be cleaned as instructed and the pee must be collected midstream. Things like toilet paper or hair must not get in the sample.

If a child isn't potty trained and can't pee into a cup, the doctor or nurse will insert a catheter (a narrow soft tube) into the bladder to get a small sample.

What Is a Routine Urine Culture?

Routine urine cultures can look for a urinary tract infection (UTI) and see which germs are causing it. If germs are found, a urine culture can tell doctors what antibiotic will work best to treat the infection.

Why Are Routine Urine Cultures Done?

Doctors use routine urine cultures to diagnose UTIs. They’ll order one if a child:

  • complains of pain when peeing
  • feels the urge to pee often but doesn't produce much urine (also called urgency)
  • has a fever without a clear reason or has belly pain
  • had another urine test with results that show a problem like a high number of white blood cells
  • has finished treatment for a UTI, to see if the infection is gone

A health care technician will keep the urine sample in conditions where germs can multiply. If the sample has a lot of germs, the technician will use a microscope or chemical tests to find out which ones they are. They also may do tests to see which medicines will be most effective against the germ.

What Else Should I Know?

The urinary (the urethra) opening must be clean and the pee collected midstream. That’s because the skin around the urinary opening normally has some of the same bacteria that cause UTIs. If these get into the sample, doctors might not be able to tell if there is a true infection. So the skin in the area is cleaned before the pee is collected. In this "clean-catch" method, the patient (or parent) cleans the skin, the child pees, stops briefly (if old enough to cooperate), then pees again into the sample cup. The cup shouldn't touch the child's skin. Catching the urine in "midstream" is the goal.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the urine culture, talk to your doctor. If the test results show a possible problem, they might order other tests.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.