urine culture

Dilworth bactitech at hortonsbay.com
Wed Feb 7 22:38:47 EST 2001

What John wrote is correct and I can only add an addendum.

Not all laboratories use the same criteria for quantitation.  Males have a
better chance of collecting a "better" specimen than a female does just by
nature of their anatomy, "better" implying less chance of skin contamination
from the area around the urethra.  If your physician puts a comment "identify
all organisms regardless of count"  on the original requisition, depending upon
the laboratory, they will identify and do sensitivities on low numbers of
colonies in the specimen.  Not all labs plate catheterized urines with a larger
loop so would not necessarily pick up the low numbers.  In fact, my current
employer is the first since the start of my micro career in 1974 that works up
low numbers (<10,000/ml) in catheterized urines.

If you are plagued with a repeat performance of this organism, I think it would
be wise to ask for a urologist's opinion, as urinary tract infections in males
(I'm assuming you are male from your email address) can seed from the prostate
and can get hard to treat.  You stated that you have had this before.  Men do
not have nearly the amount of urinary tract infections that females do,
especially younger men, so don't fool around with this.  Elderly men in nursing
home situations, with catheters, etc., are another case entirely.   I can't
comment on home remedies either, but remember, you only have two kidneys and one
prostate, and you want to be kind to them and have them be free of infection.

I know as a technologist I regard cultures from males with low numbers of
potential pathogens and lack of skin flora differently than if the same picture
showed up on a female's specimen due to the nature of the anatomical difference
and difficulty of females in getting a good specimen.

As far as strains of E. coli go, in a UTI (urinary tract infection), the doc
will look at the sensitivity pattern the lab reports out.  The only strain one
must worry about is in stool specimens, which is O157:H7 (the one from bad
hamburger) and isn't applicable to urine specimens; i.e. we only look for that
strain in stool cultures and have special media to help to find it amongst all
the other E. coli.  Yes, there are strain differences in E. coli but, other than
the above strain mentioned, that is the stuff of research, not medical micro.

Hope I've helped.

Judy Dilworth, M.T. (ASCP)

Hotmail wrote:

> what constitutes a positve culture? how  are cultures quantified with respect
> to the number of pathogens?
> i read where there are different strains of the e.coli. does the culture
> determine what specific strain is present?

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