Does this test have other names?
What is this test?
This test looks for bacteria or other organisms in a wound. The test is used to find out if a wound is infected. It can also see the type of organism that's causing the infection.
This test is done with a small sample of tissue or fluid from a wound. The sample is put into a small dish with a substance that helps organisms grow. This is known as a culture. After a period of time, the dish is checked to see what is growing.
An infected wound may need treatment such as antibiotics. The antibiotics stop the infection and keep it from spreading to other areas of the body. Treating the infection also helps the wound to heal.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if your healthcare provider thinks that your wound is infected or if you were bitten by an animal, insect, or person.
Symptoms of an infected wound include:
Swelling or a new lump under the skin
Pus or bad-smelling fluid draining from the wound
Skin around the wound that feels hot to the touch
Bumps near the wound that look like boils, pustules, spider bites, or a rash
A severe infection may also cause:
What other tests might I have along with this test?
You may also have these tests:
Blood tests to check liver function, blood proteins, and blood sugar,
Complete blood count (CBC)
What do my test results mean?
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
A negative result means that no organisms grew in the culture from your wound. A positive result means that bacteria or other organisms did grow and that your wound is infected. From your test results, your healthcare provider can figure out the best antibiotic to treat it.
How is this test done?
This test is done with a swab of the fluid or tissue from a wound. Your healthcare provider will carefully clean the wound and flush out any dirt with water. Then he or she will collect a sample using a long cotton swab to gently wipe the wound. If the wound isn't oozing, your provider may moisten the swab with a sterile saline solution.
Does this test pose any risks?
This test poses no known risks.
What might affect my test results?
Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.
June 23, 2018
Evaluation and Treatment of Injuries: Hospital Care. Wilderness Medicine. Auerbach PS. 2011, 6th ed., Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. Chernecky CC. 2013, 6th ed., pp. 266-432.
Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN,Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD