Culture and sensitivity

A culture is done to find out what kind of organism (usually a bacteria) is causing an illness or infection.

A sensitivity test checks to see what kind of medicine, such as an antibiotic, will work best to treat the illness or infection.

A culture is done by collecting a sample of fluid or tissue and then rubbing the sample onto a special plate with prepared gelatin (culture). If there are bacteria in the sample, they will grow in the culture, usually within 2 days.

A culture and sensitivity test may be done on many different body fluids, such as urine, mucus, blood, pus, saliva, breast milk, spinal fluid, or discharge from the vagina or penis.

Last Updated: June 9, 2009

Author: Maria Essig

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine

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