A urine culture is a lab test to check for bacteria or other germs in a urine sample.
Urinary tract infection – adults
Urinary tract infection – children
Culture and sensitivity – urine
How the test is performed
Most of the time, the sample will be collected as a
A urine sample is taken by inserting a thin rubber tube (catheter) through the urethra into the bladder. This is done by someone in your doctor’s office or at the hospital. The urine drains into a sterile container, and the catheter is removed.
Rarely, the health care provider may choose to collect a urine sample by inserting a needle through the skin of the lower abdomen into the bladder.
The urine is taken to a lab to determine which, if any, bacteria or yeast are present in the urine. This takes 24 – 48 hours.
How to prepare for the test
If possible, collect the sample when urine has been in your bladder for 2 to 3 hours.
How the test will feel
When the catheter is inserted, you may feel pressure. A special gel is used to numb the urethra.
Why the test is performed
Your health care provider may order this test if you have symptoms of a
You may also have a urine culture after you have been treated for an infection, to make sure that all of the bacteria are gone.
“Normal growth” is a normal result. This means that there is no infection.
It takes 24 to 48 hours to get results.
What abnormal results mean
A “positive” or abnormal test is when bacteria or yeast are found in the culture. This likely means that you have a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection.
Other tests may help your health care provider know which bacteria or yeast are causing the infection, and which antibiotics will best treat it.
Sometimes more than one type of bacteria, or only a small amount may be found in the culture.
What the risks are
There is a very rare risk of a hole (perforation) in the urethra or bladder if your doctor or nurse uses a catheter.
You may have a false-negative urine culture if you’ve recently taken antibiotics.