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Urine Test: Routine Culture

What Is a Urine Test?

Testing a urine sample can help doctors find out what’s going on when someone has an infection or other problem in kidneys, bladder, or other parts of the urinary tract.

To help your child get ready for a urine test, find out if they need to avoid any specific foods or activity before the test, or should stop taking any medicines.

Urine tests are painless. To help ease any fears, explain in simple terms how the test is done and why it’s needed. Make sure your child understands that the urinary opening (urethra) must be cleaned as instructed and the pee must be collected midstream. Things like toilet paper or hair must not get in the sample.

If a child isn’t potty trained and can’t pee into a cup, the doctor or nurse will insert a catheter (a narrow soft tube) into the bladder to get a small sample.

What Is a Routine Urine Culture?

Routine urine cultures can look for a urinary tract infection (UTI) and see which germs are causing it. If germs are found, a urine culture can tell doctors what antibiotic will work best to treat the infection.

Why Are Routine Urine Cultures Done?

Doctors use routine urine cultures to diagnose UTIs. They’ll order one if a child:

  • complains of pain when peeing
  • feels the urge to pee often but doesn’t produce much urine (also called urgency)
  • has a fever without a clear reason or has belly pain
  • had another urine test with results that show a problem like a high number of white blood cells
  • has finished treatment for a UTI, to see if the infection is gone

A health care technician will keep the urine sample in conditions where germs can multiply. If the sample has a lot of germs, the technician will use a microscope or chemical tests to find out which ones they are. They also may do tests to see which medicines will be most effective against the germ.

What Else Should I Know?

The urinary (the urethra) opening must be clean and the pee collected midstream. That’s because the skin around the urinary opening normally has some of the same bacteria that cause UTIs. If these get into the sample, doctors might not be able to tell if there is a true infection. So the skin in the area is cleaned before the pee is collected. In this “clean-catch” method, the patient (or parent) cleans the skin, the child pees, stops briefly (if old enough to cooperate), then pees again into the sample cup. The cup shouldn’t touch the child’s skin. Catching the urine in “midstream” is the goal.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the urine culture, talk to your doctor. If the test results show a possible problem, they might order other tests.