A culture is done to find out what kind of
organism (usually bacteria) is causing an illness or infection.
A sensitivity test checks to see what kind
of medicine, such as an antibiotic, will work best to treat the illness or
A culture is done by collecting a sample of body fluid or tissue and
then adding it to a substance that helps promote the growth of bacteria or other disease-causing organisms.
If there are bacteria (or other organisms) in the sample, they will grow in the culture. Bacteria usually grow quickly in a culture (2 days), while other types of organisms, such as a fungus, can take longer.
A culture and sensitivity test may be done on many different body
fluids, such as urine, mucus, blood, pus, saliva, breast milk, spinal fluid, or
discharge from the vagina or penis.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.