Culture and Sensitivity

Culture and Sensitivity

A culture is done to find out what kind of organism (usually 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 body fluid or tissue and then adding it to a substance that helps promote the growth of bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. If there are bacteria (or other organisms) in the sample, they will grow in the culture. Bacteria usually grow quickly in a culture (2 days), while other types of organisms, such as a fungus, can take longer.

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 Revised: May 10, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use . How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.