The sample is sent to a laboratory and placed in a special dish (called a culture medium). The laboratory team checks the dish at different time periods to see if bacteria, virus, or fungus has grown. Further tests can be done to identify the specific organism and determine the best treatment.
How to prepare for the test:
There is no preparation needed for a culture. For information on how to prepare for a skin or mucosal sample, see:
Armstrong CA. Examination of the skin and approach to diagnosing skin diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 462.
Review Date: 10/18/2009 Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.