What is the role of throat culture in the diagnosis of tonsillitis?

Updated: Apr 06, 2020
  • Author: Udayan K Shah, MD, FACS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Throat cultures are the criterion standard for detecting group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (GABHS). GABHS is the principal organism for which antibiotic therapy (sensitivity 90-95%) is definitely indicated. Growing concerns over bacterial resistance make monitoring acute tonsillitis with throat swabs for culture and sensitivity an important endeavor. Relying only on clinical criteria, such as the presence of exudate, erythema, fever, and lymphadenopathy, is not an accurate method for distinguishing GABHS from viral tonsillitis. A Monospot serum test, CBC count, and serum electrolyte level test may be indicated.

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