A throat culture is a
test to check for a
fungal infection in the throat. A sample swabbed from
the throat is put in a special cup (culture) that allows infections to grow. If
an infection grows, the culture is positive. The type of infection is found
using a microscope, chemical tests, or both. If no infection grows, the culture
Examples of infections that may be found during a
throat culture include:
- Candida albicans. This
thrush , an infection of the mouth and tongue and
sometimes of the throat.
- Group A streptococcus. This bacteria can cause
scarlet fever, and
rheumatic fever. If strep throat is likely, a test
called a rapid strep test (or quick strep) may be done before a throat culture.
With a rapid strep test, results are ready in 10 minutes instead of 1 to 2 days
with a throat culture. If the rapid strep test results are positive,
antibiotics can be started immediately. A throat
culture is more accurate than the rapid strep test. The rapid strep test can
false-negative results even when strep bacteria are
present. When the results of a rapid strep test are negative, many doctors recommend doing a throat culture to make sure that strep throat
is not present.
- Neisseria meningitidis. This bacteria can cause
If bacteria grows in the culture, other tests may be
done to check which antibiotic will treat the infection best. This is called
Most sore throats are caused by an infection with a virus, such as a cold or flu. Throat cultures are not done for viral infections because it is very hard to grow viruses and it is expensive.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
June 12, 2012
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