Urine culture and sensitivity


Clinical definition of the Urine culture and sensitivity test
The urine culture test is used to grow and identify organisms, especially bacteria and sometimes fungi that may cause a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Urine in the bladder is generally sterile and is free from these organisms. Urinary tract infections are more common in females and in children than in adult males.
The antibiotic sensitivity (or susceptibility) test helps to choose the best antibiotic that will be most effective against the specific types of bacteria or fungus causing the infection. This test needs to be done conducted some types of bacteria or fungus are resistant to certain antibiotics and infections caused by these resistant micro-organisms are not cured by treatment with those antibiotics.

Why is the Urine culture and sensitivity test done?
Urine culture and sensitivity may be used to diagnose, and to screen for diseases or medical conditions associated with a Urinary tract infection by persons experiencing symptoms such as frequent and painful urination.

What are the common signs/symptoms when the Urine culture and sensitivity test is done?
General symptoms of a UTI:-

  • Unexplained fever
  • Malaise (Physical discomfort)
  • Pain and pressure in Lower abdomen (belly) and back
  • Chills
  • Painful or difficult urination (usually burning)
  • Increased urination frequency
  • Tiredness or shakiness
  • Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy or reddish

Who should do the Urine culture and sensitivity test (Target population)?
Persons showing the above signs & symptoms. It is generally used under the following conditions:

  • To find the cause of a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Decide the best treatment for a UTI (sensitivity testing)
  • Check if the treatment is working

What should I do before the Urine culture and sensitivity test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions before the test *


Mid-Stream Urine (not at the beginning and not at the end) should be collected. Care must be taken to clean the genitals well before collection.

Follow these steps to get the sample

Initial or the first few drops of the urine should be discarded in the toilet.

Mid-stream urine sample should be collected in the sterile container provided.

Latter part or the end of the urine should not be collected.

Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period.

No special preparations required.

Do not urinate for at least one hour before the test and drink a glass of water 15-20 minutes before sample collection.

*Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my Urine culture and sensitivity test results?

Reference Range*


<10,000 colonies/ml


10,000-100,000 colonies/ml


>100,000 colonies/ml


Inference: Urine is normally sterile. However, in the process of collecting the urine, some contamination from skin bacteria is frequent. For that reason, up to 10,000 colonies of bacteria/ml are considered normal. Greater than 100,000 colonies/ml represents a positive urinary tract infection. For counts between 10,000 and 100,000, the culture is indeterminate.
‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/conditions related to the Urine culture and sensitivity test
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Other tests related to the Urine culture and sensitivity test

  • Urine Routine
  • 24 Urinary protein
  • Blood culture
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Creatinine
  • Creatinine clearance
  • Microalbumin
  • eGFR
  • Susceptibility testing
  • Bacterial wound culture
  • Gram stain

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Urine Culture & Sensitivity