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Understanding Urine Culture
- A urine culture may be ordered when symptoms indicate the possibility of a urinary tract infection, such as pain and burning when urinating and frequent urge to urinate.
- A urine sample is kept under conditions that allow bacteria and other organisms to grow. If few or no organisms grow, the test is negative. If organisms grow in numbers large enough to indicate an infection, the culture is positive. The type of organisms causing the infection are identified with a microscope or by chemical tests.
- Urinary tract infections are more common in women and girls than in men. This may be partly because the female urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, which allows bacteria from the intestines to come into contact more easily with the urethra. Men also have an antibacterial substance in their prostate gland that reduces their risk.
- If the urine culture is positive, other tests may be done to help choose which antibiotic will do the best job treating the infection. This is called sensitivity testing.