Test Catalog

Test ID: UR    
Bacterial Culture, Aerobic, Urine

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosis of urinary tract infections


Quantitative culture results may be helpful in discriminating contamination, colonization, and infection

Testing Algorithm Delineates situations when tests are added to the initial order. This includes reflex and additional tests.

When this test is ordered, the reflex tests may be performed and charged.

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Urinary tract infection (UTI) encompasses a broad range of clinical entities that vary in their clinical presentation, degree of tissue invasion, epidemiologic setting, and antibiotic therapy requirements. There are 4 major types of UTIs: urethritis, cystitis, acute urethral syndrome, and pyelonephritis. UTIs may also be classified as uncomplicated or complicated. Escherichia coli is the leading cause of uncomplicated community-acquired UTI. Risk factors that predispose one to complicated UTIs include: underlying diseases that are associated with kidney infection (eg, diabetes), kidney stones, structural or functional urinary tract abnormalities, and indwelling urinary catheters. Another classification of UTIs is as upper UTI (related to the kidney, renal pelvis, or ureter) or lower UTI (urinary bladder and urethra). The classic symptoms of upper UTI are fever (often with chills) and flank pain; frequent painful urination, urgency, and dysuria are more often associated with lower UTI.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

No growth (Organism present <10,000 cfu/mL, or mixed flora.)

Identification of probable pathogens with colony count ranges

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

In general, the isolation of more than 100,000 cfu/mL of a urinary pathogen is indicative of urinary tract infection (UTI). Isolation of 2 or more organisms above 10,000 cfu/mL may suggest specimen contamination. For specimens contaminated with the usual bacterial flora, bacteria that are potentially pathogenic are identified.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Although urine is normally sterile, contamination by organisms normally present in the urethra or on periurethral surfaces can allow a proliferation of these organisms yielding misleading urine culture results.


Urine held at ambient temperature for more than 30 minutes supports the growth of both pathogens and contaminants, leading to potentially inaccurate colony counts.


Urine obtained from catheter bags at the bedside and Foley catheter tips are unacceptable for culture.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Forbes BA, Sahm DF, Weissfeld AS: Infections of the urinary tract. In Bailey and Scott's Diagnostic Microbiology. 12th edition. St. Louis, MO, Mosby, 2007, pp 842-855

2. Procop GW, Church DL, Hall GS, et al: Koneman's Color Atlas and Textbook of Diagnostic Microbiology. Seventh edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer|Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2017. Chapter 2, Introduction to Microbiology Part II:  Guidelines for the Collection, Transport, Processing, Analysis, and Reporting of Cultures From Specific Specimen Sources; p. 66-110