Rectal cultureCulture - rectal
Rectal culture is a laboratory test to identifybacteria and other germsin the rectum that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and disease.
How the Test is Performed
A cotton swab is inserted into the rectum, rotated gently, and removed. A smear of the swab is placed in culture media to encourage the growth of bacteria and other organisms. The laboratory technician watches the culture for growth.
When growth is observed, the organisms can be identified. Further tests to determine the best treatment may also be done.
See also: Sensitivity analysis
How to Prepare for the Test
The health care provider does the rectal examination and collects the specimen.
How the Test Will Feel
There may be pressure as the swab is inserted into the rectum, but the test is usually not painful.
Why the Test is Performed
The test is performed if yourhealth care providersuspects that you have an infection of the rectum. It may be done when gonorrhea is suspected. It may also be done as an alternative to a fecal culture if it is not possible to get a specimen of feces.
The rectal culture may also be performed in a hospital or nursing home setting to see if someone carries vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) in their intestine, which can be spread to other patients.
Findingbacteria and other germsthat are usually found in the body is normal.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to yourhealth care providerabout the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results maymean you havean infection, such as bacterial or parasitic enterocolitis or gonorrhea. Sometimes a culture shows that you are a carrier, but you may not have an infection.
See also: Proctitis
There are no risks.
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Review Date: 4/26/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.