Alternate Names : Culture - rectal
Rectal culture is a laboratory test to identify organisms in the rectum that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and disease.
Why is the Test Performed?
The test is performed if you have gastrointestinal distress and your doctor suspects that an infection of the rectum is the cause. 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.
How is the Test 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 will the Test Feel?
There may be pressure as the swab is inserted into the rectum, but the test is usually not painful.
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