Throat swab

Throat swab

Throat swab

Alternative Names: Throat culture

A throat swab, or throat culture, identifies micro-organisms from a patient’s throat, primarily so that the doctor can prescribe the correct antibiotic. The test is done when the doctor is not sure which organism is causing a throat infection or when the infection is not responding to treatment. The doctor places a cotton swab inside the throat and removes a small amount of mucous, which is sent for laboratory analysis.

What is it?
Urinalysis refers to the examination of the urine and its contents. It involves simple “dipstix” testing in your doctor’s rooms as well as perhaps sending a specimen to a laboratory for further, more detailed, testing.

Why is it done?
A throat swab is done to identify infective organisms from the throat, usually for 2 reasons:

  • When there is uncertainty regarding what organism is causing a throat infection.
  • When a throat infection is not responding to treatment and there is a need to identify the exact organism, as well as which antibiotics are most effective against it. This helps your doctor to select the correct antibiotic.

What happens?

Before – how to prepare
No special preparation is needed although you should not use mouthwashes for several hours prior to the test.

During – how the test is done
You will sit on an examination couch and open your mouth as wide as possible. Your doctor will place a cotton swab against your tonsils (if you have them) and other throat structures, removing a small amount of mucous. This mucous is sent to the laboratory for analysis.

After the test
Unfortunately, the results will take some time (often 2 days or so) to be ready, which may delay the selection of the correct antibiotic.

Risks and Compilations
There are no risks associated with this procedure.

Special Issues
Due to the delay between taking the throat swab, and getting the results, this test is not routinely used – most doctors prefer to simply use powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics that are effective against most of the likely infecting organisms.

Short Description
A throat swab, or throat culture, identifies micro-organisms from a patient’s throat, primarily so that the doctor can prescribe the correct antibiotic.

Keywords
throat swab, throat culture



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