Skin and Wound Cultures
How It Is Done
To collect a tissue or fluid sample from a wound, a sterile swab is inserted into the wound. The health professional collecting the sample may press around the wound and gently turn the swab to collect as much tissue or fluid as possible. The swab is then placed into either an aerobic or anaerobic culture tube or both, depending on the type of organism suspected.
A needle may be used to collect fluid from a wound that is covered (scabbed-over) or from an abscess. The fluid is then placed in the culture tube.
Your doctor may need to remove a sample of skin or tissue (Reference biopsy Opens New Window) for testing. If collecting the sample is likely to cause pain, you may be given a shot to numb the area (Reference local anesthetic Opens New Window) first.
Once a sample is collected, it is placed in a container with a substance (called growth medium or culture medium) that helps bacteria, fungus, or viruses grow.
- Bacteria usually need about one to two days to grow.
- Fungi usually need several days to grow.
- Viruses need to be placed in a container with living cells and can take weeks to grow.
Any bacteria, fungi, or viruses that grow will be identified with a microscope, chemical tests, or both. If sensitivity testing is done to help make decisions about treatment, more time will be needed.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 21, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease