What is the role of urethral cultures in the workup of urethritis?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020
  • Author: Dustin L Whitaker, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Endourethral culture (obtained by gently inserting a malleable cotton-tipped swab 1-2 cm into the urethra), rather than culture of the expressible discharge, is necessary to test for C trachomatis infection. Endocervical cultures should be obtained in women.

This culture may be a useful screening tool for penicillinase-producing N gonorrhoeae or chromosomally mediated resistance to multiple antibiotics. However, the results do not influence the initial antibiotic therapy, and performing this screening may not be cost-effective. Cultures for N gonorrhoeae should be obtained in cases of sexual assault, developing antimicrobial resistance, or suspected gonorrhea treatment failures. 

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