What is the role of throat culture in the diagnosis of pharyngitis (sore throat)?

Updated: May 06, 2020
  • Author: John R Acerra, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

This is the criterion standard for diagnosis of GAS infection (90-99% sensitive). [28] Although less expensive than the rapid antigen detection test, it is not be the best test to use in the emergency department because of difficulty with follow-up. The guidelines that recommend cultures for GAS screening are aimed at office-based practices and not the emergency department.

Patients can be treated up to 9 days after onset of symptoms to prevent acute rheumatic fever, so immediate antibiotic therapy is not crucial if patients can be easily contacted for follow-up should a culture become positive. [2]


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