Urine Culture and Susceptibility Testing

This is a test used to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI). It may be done if you experience symptoms of a UTI, such as back pain or frequent and painful urination.

The urine culture detects and identifies bacteria and yeast in the urine. Urine is generally sterile, but sometimes bacteria (or, more rarely, yeast) can move from the skin outside the urethra and migrate back up the urinary tract to cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). If a UTI is present, the test will show quantities and types of bacteria (or yeast) present in the urine. Susceptibility testing is performed to guide antimicrobial treatment. Any bacterial infection may be serious and can spread to other areas of the body if not treated. Since pain is often the first indicator of an infection, prompt treatment, usually with antibiotics, will help to alleviate the pain.


No preparation is necessary. A mid-stream clean catch urine sample is needed. Urine for a culture can be collected at any time. Because of the potential to contaminate urine with bacteria and cells from the surrounding skin during collection (particularly in women), it is important to first clean the genitalia. Women should spread the labia of the vagina and clean from front to back; men should wipe the tip of the penis. As you start to urinate, let some urine fall into the toilet, then collect one to two ounces of urine in the sterile container provided, then void the rest into the toilet. This type of collection is called a mid-stream clean catch urine.


  • Negative: Less than 10,000 bacteria/mL urine

  • Positive: Greater than 10,000 bacteria/mL urine

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.


Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.


It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.