How is N gonorrhoeae identified for the diagnosis of gonorrhea?

Updated: Jun 15, 2021
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Perform a culture or nonculture detection test for N gonorrhoeae on endocervical, urethral, pharyngeal, or rectal discharge. Because organisms are intracellular, attempt to obtain specimens in a manner that will contain mucosal cells and not merely discharge (similar to a Papanicolaou smear).

Nonculture tests are less accurate in the presence of blood or during menses. Use culture instead at these times.

Culture is performed on Thayer-Martin plates that must be stored refrigerated but warmed to room temperature before obtaining a sample. The plate is then incubated in a carbon dioxide atmosphere. Poor technique drastically reduces test sensitivity.

Medicolegal cases (eg, child abuse, rape) require culture due to the possibility of false-positive results with nonculture methods. Performing the more sensitive PCR assay-based tests to raise the likelihood of detecting an infection and then following up with culture to produce admissible evidence is appropriate.

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