What is a Culture Test
A culture is a sample of tissue or fluid taken from the body that can be evaluated in the laboratory to detect and identify infections, as well as determine sensitivity to antibiotics. Cultures are obtained to assist the provider in determining the type of infection and in directing the antibiotic choice. The results form cultures usually take 48 to 72 hours during which time the provider may choose to treat based on the location, mechanism of injury or area of body pending the results.
Some of the culture tests available at Concentra include:
Throat cultures are taken using a swab to find a bacterial or fungal infection in the throat. A throat culture test can help indicate whether the infection is: Candida albicans (a fungus that causes thrush in the throat or mouth), Group A streptococcus (which causes strep throat, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever), or Neisseria meningitides (a bacteria that can cause meningitis).
Blood culture testing helps indicate whether there’s an infection in the blood, as the blood does not normally have any bacteria or fungi in it. A bacterial infection in the blood, called bacteremia, can be serious because the blood can spread the bacteria to any part of the body. A blood infection most often occurs with other serious infections, such as those affecting the lungs, kidneys, bowel, gallbladder, or heart. When the immune system is weak–such as in infants, older adults and those with disease (such as cancer or AIDS)–a blood infection may also develop.
Sputum is produced in the lungs and in the airways leading to the lungs. Sputum culture testing helps detect and identify bacteria or fungi that are infecting the lungs or breathing passages like bronchitis or pneumonia. Symptoms of a lung infection may include fever, difficulty breathing, pain when breathing, or a cough that produces bloody or greenish brown sputum. A sputum sample is usually gathered by coughing, and for people who cannot cough deeply enough to produce a sample, an inhaled mist solution will help them.
Vaginal Swabs & Cultures
Vaginal swabs are collected from women to determine whether a yeast, trichomonas or other - infection is present. Vaginal swabs are usually viewed immediately under the microscope by the provider who can usually make a decision right away. If the symptoms are associated with fever or severe pain a culture may be obtained in addition. This swab is most often collected in women with severe or recurring vaginal discharge, burning or itching. Although a yeast infection can be detected during a routine Pap test, Pap smears are not typically tested to diagnose vaginal infections.
Skin and Wound Culture
Skin and/or wound cultures are taken and used to detect and identify germs (such as a bacteria, fungus, or virus) that may be growing on or within the tissue and skin. These samples help find the cause of an infection in a sore, burn, or surgical wound. They are also used to test for infections in injuries that are more likely to get infected, such as animal bites, human bites, marine stings or scrapes, cuts, and puncture wounds. Culture samples can also be collected from the ears or eyes, open or closed sores, or nails.
Pap Smear Test
A cervical scraping, called a Pap smear (Pap test), collects a sample of cells from a woman's cervix. This test helps physicians look for changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer or other conditions that may develop into cancer. Currently, this test is the best method to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.