Lab Tests

Laboratory tests are microbiological tests used to diagnose and monitor treatment for a variety of health conditions. These tests are responsible for identifying infectious agents in tissue, bone marrow, blood, urine, sputum, feces, cerebrospinal fluid, and other body fluids. The infectious agents can also be tested for sensitivity to certain antibiotics used to treat infections.

Microorganisms can include the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Parasites
  • Viruses

Common microbiology tests

Tests Uses
Blood culture Can diagnose bacterial, fungal, or viral infections of the blood
Burn, tissue, and wound culture Can identify disease-causing organisms in various tissues
Sputum culture and/or nasal swab  Can identify bacteria that cause upper and lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia
Stool culture Can identify parasites and bacteria  that cause disease, such as salmonella or hookworms
Urine culture Can identify disease-causing bacteria in the kidneys and urinary tract
Throat swab and/or culture Often used to diagnose or rule out strep throat

If the culture identifies an infection, the disease-causing microbe may be tested to determine its sensitivity to antibiotic or antimicrobial drugs. This culture and sensitivity test can help the doctor identify an appropriate medication to treat an infection.

Cultures may take 24 hours to 48 hours for results. Antibiotic susceptibility studies may take another 24 hours to 48 hours.

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