Joint fluid culture is a laboratory test to detect infection-causing organisms in a sample of fluid surrounding a joint.
Joint fluid culture
How the test is performed:
A sample of joint fluid is needed. This may be done in a doctor's office using a needle, or during an operating room procedure. For more information on this procedure, see joint fluid aspiration .
The fluid sample is sent to a laboratory where it is placed in a special dish and watched to see if bacteria, fungi, or viruses grow. This is called a culture.
If such microorganisms are detected, other tests may be done to further identify the infection-causing substance and determine the best treatment.
How to prepare for the test:
There is no special preparation needed for the lab culture. For information on preparing for the removal of joint fluid, see joint fluid aspiration .
How the test will feel:
The joint fluid culture is done in a laboratory and does not involve the patient.
For information on how the procedure to remove joint fluid feels, see joint fluid aspiration .
Why the test is performed:
Your doctor may order this test if you have unexplained pain and inflammation of a joint or a suspected joint infection.
The test result is considered normal if no organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) grow in the laboratory dish.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean:
Abnormal results are a sign of infection in the joint. Infections may include:
What the risks are:
There are no risks to the patient associated with a lab culture. For risks related to the removal of joint fluid, see joint fluid aspiration .