Drinking a glass of water 15–20 minutes before the test is helpful if there is no urge to urinate. There are no other special preparations or aftercare required for the test.
There are no risks associated with the culture test itself. If insertion of a urinary catheter (thin rubber tube) is required to obtain the urine, there is a slight risk of introducing infection from the catheter.
No growth of bacteria is considered the normal result, and this indicates absence of infection.
Abnormal results, or a positive test, where bacteria are found in the specimen, may indicate a urinary tract infection. Contamination of the specimen from hair, external genitalia, or the rectum may cause a false-positive result. Identification of the number and type of bacteria, with consideration of the method used in obtaining the specimen, is significant in diagnosis.
Escherichia coli causes approximately 80% of infections in patients without catheters, abnormalities of the urinary tract, or calculi (stones). Other bacteria that account for a smaller portion of uncomplicated infections include Proteus klebsiella and Enterobacter.
David, Alan K., et al. Family Medicine: Principles and Practice. New York: Springer Verlag, Inc., 1994.
Malarkey, Louise, and Mary Ellen McMorrow. Nurse's Manual of Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1996.
American Foundation for Urologic Disease. 300 West Pratt St., Suite 401, Baltimore, MD 21201.