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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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Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture

What is this test?

This test detects a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea) from a culture of certain body fluids or tissues. This test is used when an infection with gonorrhea is suspected. A sample of endocervical cells, vaginal cells or discharge, urethral cells or discharge, anal cells, throat cells, or eye discharge may be collected for this test. If a widespread infection of gonorrhea is suspected, a sample of venous blood, synovial fluid or other body fluid or tissues may be collected[1][2][3].

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:

  • Gonorrhea

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?

Endocervical cells:

Written consent will be required for endocervical sampling. Review the consent form with the healthcare worker and ask any questions that you have before signing the consent form.

Tell the healthcare worker if you have a medical condition or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding. If possible, schedule the procedure one week after your menstrual period. Do not douche or have sexual intercourse for 24 hours before the procedure.

You may be asked to urinate prior to your endocervical sampling. This will make it easier for the healthcare worker to see your cervical canal during the procedure and may make the procedure more comfortable for you.

Vaginal cells/discharge:

Ask the healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test.

Urethral cells/discharge:

Before collection of urethral cells and/or urethral discharge for this test, you should not urinate during the hour prior to the test. This is because urine may minimize or clear your urethra (the tube that drains urine) of any organisms (germs), thus affecting the results of this test.

Anal cells:

Ask the healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test.

Throat cells/mucus:

Ask the healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test.

Eye discharge:

Ask the healthcare worker for information about how to prepare for this test.

Venous blood:

Before having blood collected, tell the person drawing your blood if you are allergic to latex. Tell the healthcare worker if you have a medical condition or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding. Also tell the healthcare worker if you have felt nauseated, lightheaded, or have fainted while having blood drawn in the past.

Synovial fluid:

An arthrocentesis is a procedure that requires written consent. Review the consent form with the healthcare worker and ask any questions that you have before signing the consent form.

Tell the healthcare worker if you have a medical condition or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding. You should also report if you have a history of allergic or other reactions to local anesthetics. Blood tests may need to be done before an arthrocentesis.

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 of endocervical cells, vaginal cells or discharge, urethral cells or discharge, anal cells, throat cells, eye discharge, venous blood, synovial fluid, or other body fluid or tissues may be collected for this test.

Endocervical cells:

For an endocervical sampling, you will be asked to lie on your back with your legs spread and feet placed in stirrups. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This tool is used to gently spread apart your vagina. A small brush is inserted into the endocervical canal and rotated. This is done to collect cells. Once a sufficient sample is collected, the brush is removed. The sample off the brush is then sent for testing.

Vaginal cells/discharge:

A vaginal swab is done to collect a sample from the lower part of your vagina. You will be asked to lie on your back with your legs spread and feet placed on stirrups. A special kind of swab will be inserted into your lower vagina or just near the entrance of the vagina. The swab will be rotated gently and then remain still for a few seconds before it is removed. This is done make sure enough secretions have been collected for the test. The sample is then sent for testing.

Urethral cells/discharge:

A urethral culture procedure is used to collect cells samples and/or urethral discharge. This test is usually done on males only. For this procedure, you will be asked to lie on your back. The tip of the penis will be cleaned. A special thin swab will be inserted into the urethra. The swab will gently be twisted side to side and then remain still for a few seconds before it is removed. This is to allow the swab to absorb enough fluid to be cultured. It may be possible to get a sample by “milking” the urethra for discharge. Ask the healthcare worker if this is an appropriate option.

Anal cells:

An anal swab is done to collect a sample from your rear end. You may be asked to lie on your back with your legs spread and feet placed in stirrups. A special kind of swab will be inserted an inch into your rear end. The swab will be rotated gently before it is removed. The sample is then sent for testing.

Throat cells/mucus:

A throat culture is done to collect mucus and cells from the back of your throat. For a throat culture, you will need to open your mouth wide. The person doing the test will use a long, sterile cotton swab to swab the back of your throat, near your tonsils. The swab may be rubbed several times to obtain the sample. Do not close your mouth when the sample is being collected. After the sample has been collected, the swab will be taken out and tested.

Eye discharge:

The most common way this test is done is with a sterile moistened swab. The swab will be wiped over the surface of your eye or the inside of your eyelid. The swab will collect any pus or drainage[4][5].

Venous blood:

When a blood sample from a vein is needed, a vein in your arm is usually selected. A tourniquet (large rubber strap) may be secured above the vein. The skin over the vein will be cleaned, and a needle will be inserted. You will be asked to hold very still while your blood is collected. Blood will be collected into one or more tubes, and the tourniquet will be removed. When enough blood has been collected, the healthcare worker will take the needle out.

Synovial fluid:

Synovial fluid is the fluid around the joints. A synovial fluid sample is obtained by a procedure called an arthrocentesis. The skin over the joint will be cleaned, and a local anesthetic will be used to numb the tissue at the insertion site. A needle will be inserted into the space around the joint, and fluid collected into a syringe. After enough synovial fluid has been collected, the needle will be removed.

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?

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.

Endocervical cells:

You may feel mild discomfort, cramping, or pain during an endocervical sampling.

Vaginal cells/discharge:

During a vaginal swab, you may feel discomfort when the swab moves in your vagina.

Urethral cells/discharge:

A urethral culture generally takes less than a minute. However, you may feel discomfort when the swab moves in the urethra.

Anal cells:

During an anal swab, you may feel discomfort when the swab moves in your rear end.

Throat cells/mucus:

During a throat culture, you may feel mild discomfort at the back of your throat when the sample is collected. You may feel like gagging or coughing. You may have a mild sore throat briefly after the procedure.

Eye discharge:

During an eye culture, you may feel mild eyelid discomfort when the sample is collected. No anesthetic (numbing or pain medicine) is used for this test. Ask the healthcare worker what to expect during this test.[4].

Venous blood:

During a blood draw, you may feel mild discomfort at the location where the blood sample is being collected.

Synovial fluid:

During an arthrocentesis, a local anesthetic is given to numb the procedure area. You may feel mild discomfort or stinging when the numbing medicine is injected. You may feel pressure or discomfort during the procedure. Brief pain may be felt as the needle passes through the joint membrane. Your procedure site may be sore for several days.

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?

Endocervical cells:

After endocervical sampling, you may experience some light spotting (mild, occasional bleeding from the vagina). Generally, there are no activity restrictions after this procedure.

Vaginal cells/discharge:

There are no special instructions to follow after this test.

Urethral cells/discharge:

After a sample has been collected, avoid all sexual activities until you receive your results and speak to your healthcare worker.

Anal cells:

There are no special instructions to follow after this test.

Throat cells/mucus:

There are no special instructions to follow after this test.

Eye discharge:

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.

Venous blood:

After a blood sample is collected from your vein, a bandage, cotton ball, or gauze may be placed on the area where the needle was inserted. You may be asked to apply pressure to the area. Avoid strenuous exercise immediately after your blood draw. Contact your healthcare worker if you feel pain or see redness, swelling, or discharge from the puncture site.

Synovial fluid:

You will be given instructions for how to care for your bandage and the signs and symptoms of infection to watch for. Contact your healthcare worker if you have a fever or increased pain, and if you see increasing redness, swelling, or pus at the procedure site.

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?

Endocervical cells: An endocervical cell sample is collected using a method similar to a Pap smear. This procedure may cause light bleeding from the vagina. If you have a medical condition, or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding, you are at a higher risk of bleeding during or after this procedure. The person doing this procedure may need to perform it more than once. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have any concerns about the risks of this procedure.

Vaginal cells/discharge: Ask the healthcare worker to explain any risks of this test to you before it is performed.

Urethral cells/discharge: Ask the healthcare worker to explain the risks of this procedure to you before it is performed.

Anal cells: Ask the healthcare worker to explain any risks of this test to you before it is performed.

Throat cells/mucus: A throat culture is generally considered safe. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have questions or concerns about the risks of a throat culture.

Blood: During a blood draw, a hematoma (blood-filled bump under the skin) or slight bleeding from the puncture site may occur. After a blood draw, a bruise or infection may occur at the puncture site. The person doing this test may need to perform it more than once. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have any concerns about the risks of this test.

Synovial fluid: An arthrocentesis is the procedure used to get a sample of synovial fluid for testing. Risks of an arthrocentesis include bleeding into the joint and joint infection. If you have a medical condition, or are using a medication or supplement that causes excessive bleeding, you are at a higher risk of bleeding from the puncture site. The person doing this procedure may need to perform it more than once. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have any concerns about the risks of having an arthrocentesis.

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 to explain the risks of this test to you. If you have questions or concerns about this test, talk to the healthcare worker.

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:

  • 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.

Urethral cells/discharge:

If you have a positive urethral culture, you may need to have the test repeated to monitor the treatment of your diagnosed condition. Additionally, all of your sexual partners may need to be treated. Follow the instructions given to you by your healthcare worker regarding sexual activities.

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. Donovan B: Sexually transmissible infections other than HIV. Lancet 2004; 363(9408):545-556.
  2. Johnson RE, Newhall WJ, Papp JR, et al: Screening tests to detect Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections--2002. MMWR Recomm Rep 2002; 51(RR-15):1-38.
  3. Bonin P, Tanino T, Handsfield H, et al: Isolation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae on selective and nonselective media in a sexually transmitted disease clinic. J Clin Microbiol 1984; 19:218-220.
  4. Cantor RM: Ocular and paranasal sinus infections in infancy and childhood.. Top Emerg Med 1990; 12:75-87.
  5. Fischbach FFischbach F: A Manual of Laboratory Diagnostic Tests, 2nd. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1984.

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