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Diseases reference index «Urine culture - catheterized specimen»

Catheterized specimen urine culture is a test in which a urine sample is taken by inserting a catheter (a thin rubber tube) through the urethra into the bladder.

How the Test is Performed

A nurse or a trained technician may perform the test. First, the area around the opening of the urethra is thoroughly washed with a germ-killing (antiseptic) solution. A well-lubricated thin rubber tube called a catheter is gently inserted and advanced until it enters the bladder. The urine drains into a sterile container, and the catheter is removed.

Rarely, the health care provider may choose to collect a urine sample by inserting a needle directly into the bladder and draining the urine. However, this is usually only done in infants or to immediately screen for bacterial infection.

The urine is taken to a laboratory to determine which, if any, organisms are present in the urine. Other tests may be done to determine how the organism will respond to medications.

How to Prepare for the Test

Do not urinate for at least 1 hour before the test. If you don't have the urge to urinate, you may be instructed to drink a glass of water 15-20 minutes before the test. Otherwise, there is no preparation for the test.

How the Test Will Feel

There is some discomfort. As the catheter is inserted, you may feel pressure. If you have a urinary tract infection, there may be a painful sensation when the catheter is inserted, due to inflammation of the urethra.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is performed:

  • To obtain a sterile urine specimen in a person who cannot urinate on their own
  • When an infection is suspected in the urinary tract
  • When urinary retention is suspected

Tests for organisms that cause infection are performed after the urine is collected. This can also help monitor ongoing infections.

Normal Results

Normal values depend on the test being performed. Normal results are reported as "no growth" and indicate that there is no infection.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A "positive" test indicates organisms that cause urinary tract infection were detected.


There is a slight risk of perforation (hole) in the urethra or bladder from the catheter and a risk of infection.


Rarely, a suprapubic aspirate may be performed if a sample cannot be obtained by other methods. In this method, a needle is inserted through the skin of the lower abdomen into the bladder to withdraw urine.

Alternative Names

Culture - urine - catheterized specimen; Urine culture - catheterization; Catheterized urine specimen culture

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