How are culture specimens collected for diagnosis of gonorrhea?

Updated: Jun 15, 2021
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Although the urethra is commonly infected in women with gonorrhea, culturing urethral specimens does not materially increase the diagnostic yield except in women who lack a cervix because of hysterectomy.

Patients with possible disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) should have culture samples taken from all possible mucosal sites (ie, pharynx, urethra, cervix, rectum) and from blood and synovial fluid. Rectal and pharyngeal specimens are inoculated onto selective medium only.

When collecting specimens in males, any discharge present at the meatus can be easily recovered for examination. If no discharge is present at the meatus, urethral material must be recovered by inserting and rotating a small swab 2-3 cm into the urethra. A calcium alginate or Rayon swab on a metal shaft is recommended.

When collecting specimens in women, the exocervix is first wiped of exudate. A swab is then placed into the external os and rotated for several seconds. However, take care to avoid contact with vaginal mucosa or secretions, as vaginal fluids are inadequate.

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