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Health Library : Lab Tests & Results Print [PDF]
Browse by the First Letter(s) of the Lab Test
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Aerobic microbial culture

What is this test?

This test is used to detect and identify bacteria when an infection is suspected. This test specifically identifies bacteria that require oxygen to survive (aerobic). A sample from a wound, or another kind of body fluid or tissue sample may be collected for this test[1][2].

What are related tests?

Why do I need this test?

Laboratory tests may be done for many reasons. Tests are performed for routine health screenings or if a disease or toxicity is suspected. Lab tests may be used to determine if a medical condition is improving or worsening. Lab tests may also be used to measure the success or failure of a medication or treatment plan. Lab tests may be ordered for professional or legal reasons. The following is a possible reason why this test may be done:

  • Bacterial infectious disease

When and how often should I have this test?

When and how often laboratory tests are done may depend on many factors. The timing of laboratory tests may rely on the results or completion of other tests, procedures, or treatments. Lab tests may be performed immediately in an emergency, or tests may be delayed as a condition is treated or monitored. A test may be suggested or become necessary when certain signs or symptoms appear.

Due to changes in the way your body naturally functions through the course of a day, lab tests may need to be performed at a certain time of day. If you have prepared for a test by changing your food or fluid intake, lab tests may be timed in accordance with those changes. Timing of tests may be based on increased and decreased levels of medications, drugs or other substances in the body.

The age or gender of the person being tested may affect when and how often a lab test is required. Chronic or progressive conditions may need ongoing monitoring through the use of lab tests. Conditions that worsen and improve may also need frequent monitoring. Certain tests may be repeated to obtain a series of results, or tests may need to be repeated to confirm or disprove results. Timing and frequency of lab tests may vary if they are performed for professional or legal reasons.

How should I get ready for the test?

Wound material or drainage:

Before a wound culture, you may be offered medication for pain. You will need to have your body in a position to allow the healthcare worker access to the wound.

Other body fluid or tissue samples:

A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Ask your healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test. If you have questions or concerns about the preparation for this test, talk to the healthcare worker.

How is the test done?

A sample from a wound, or another kind of body fluid or tissue sample may be collected for this test.

Wound material or drainage:

A wound culture sample may be made up of cells, tissue, or fluid. Methods used to obtain a wound culture vary depending on many factors, including the location and type of wound. Before the procedure, the healthcare worker will usually clean the area with antiseptic solution, and place sterile cloth around the wound. To collect a sample from certain wounds, the healthcare worker will press or squeeze near or on the wound and use a sterile swab to gather fluid, cells, or tissue. The swab may also be inserted deeply into the wound and rotated to collect a sample. For a deep wound, a needle and syringe may be used to draw material from the base of the wound for the sample.

Other body fluid or tissue samples:

A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Methods used to collect other body fluids or tissue samples may vary. Ask the healthcare worker to explain how this sample may be collected. If you have questions or concerns about this test, talk to the healthcare worker.

How will the test feel?

Wound material or drainage:

The amount of discomfort you feel will depend on many factors, including your sensitivity to pain. Communicate how you are feeling with the person doing the procedure. Inform the person doing the procedure if you feel that you cannot continue with the procedure.

Other body fluid or tissue samples:

A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. This test may feel different depending on many factors, including the sample needed and how it is collected. Ask the healthcare worker what to expect during this test.

What should I do after the test?

Wound material or drainage:

After a wound culture, follow the healthcare worker’s instructions regarding taking care of the wound. Call your healthcare worker if you have increasing pain, redness, swelling, discharge or bleeding from the wound. Inform them if you develop a fever, start vomiting, or have increasing fatigue.

Other body fluid or tissue samples:

A different sample other than the samples listed above may be used for this test. Instructions for what to do after a collection of other body fluid or tissue samples may vary. Ask the healthcare worker to instruct you on what to expect after this test is completed. If you have questions or concerns about what to expect after the test is completed, talk to the healthcare worker.

What are the risks?

Ask the healthcare worker to explain the risks of this test or procedure to you before it is performed.

What are normal results for this test?

Laboratory test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and many other factors. If your results are different from the results suggested below, this may not mean that you have a disease. Contact your healthcare worker if you have any questions. The following is considered to be a normal result for this test:

  • Adults and Children: Negative or No Growth

What follow up should I do after this test?

Ask your healthcare worker how you will be informed of the test results. You may be asked to call for results, schedule an appointment to discuss results, or notified of results by mail. Follow up care varies depending on many factors related to your test. Sometimes there is no follow up after you have been notified of test results. At other times follow up may be suggested or necessary. Some examples of follow up care include changes to medication or treatment plans, referral to a specialist, more or less frequent monitoring, and additional tests or procedures. Talk with your healthcare worker about any concerns or questions you have regarding follow up care or instructions.

Wound material or drainage:

After a wound culture you may need to do wound care. Ask your healthcare worker for wound care instructions, including how often wound care should be done.

Other body fluid or tissue samples:

A different sample other than the samples listed above may be collected for this test. Ask the healthcare worker for follow up care instructions after this test.

Where can I get more information?

Related Companies

References

  1. Henry JB: Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 20th ed. Saunders, 2001.
  2. Tietz NW (Ed): Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, 3rd ed. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, 1995.

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