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Definition:

Urethral discharge culture is a laboratory test done on men and boys to identify organisms in the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) and genital tract that cause infection.



Alternative Names:

Culture of urethral discharge; Genital exudate culture; Culture - genital discharge or exudate



How the test is performed:

To ensure a good quality specimen, it should be collected at least 1 hour after urinating.

The health care provider cleans the opening of the urethra (at the tip of the penis) with sterile gauze or cotton. A cotton swab is then gently inserted about 3/4 inch into the urethra and rotated.

A culture of the discharge or exudate (the fluid that was collected) is then prepared in the laboratory. The laboratory technician isolates and identifies any organisms that grow on the culture. The drainage may be examined on a slide under the microscope and then confirmed by culture.



How to prepare for the test:

Do not urinate for 1 hour before the test. Urination will wash away some of the organisms needed to obtain an accurate culture.



How the test will feel:

There is usually some discomfort from swabbing the urethra.



Why the test is performed:

Often the test is performed when there is a discharge from the urethra. This test can detect sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia .



Normal Values:

A negative culture, or no growth appearing in the culture, is normal.



What abnormal results mean:

Abnormal results can indicate infection within the genital system. These infections can include gonorrhea or chlamydia.

See also:



What the risks are:

Fainting (caused by stimulation of the vagal nerve) occasionally occurs when the swab is introduced into the urethra. Other risks include infection or bleeding.



Special considerations:

A comparable test for women and girls is an endocervical culture .




Review Date: 11/12/2007
Reviewed By: Arnold L. Lentnek, M.D., Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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