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Throat anatomy
Throat anatomy


Throat swabs
Throat swabs


Definition:

A throat swab culture is a laboratory test done to isolate and identify organisms that may cause infection in the throat.



Alternative Names:

Throat culture and sensitivity; Culture - throat



How the test is performed:

You will be asked to tilt your head back and open your mouth wide. The health care provider rubs a sterile cotton swab along the back of your throat near the tonsils. You need to resist gagging and closing the mouth while the swab touches this area.

The health care provider may need to scrape the back of the throat with the swab several times. This helps improve the chances of detecting bacteria.



How to prepare for the test:

Do not use antiseptic mouthwashes before the test.



How the test will feel:

Your throat may be sore at the time the test is taken. You may experience a gagging sensation when the back of your throat is touched with the swab, but the test only lasts a few seconds.



Why the test is performed:

The test is performed when a throat infection is suspected, particularly strep throat .A throat culture can also help your doctor determine which antibiotics will work best for you.



Normal Values:

The presence of the usual mouth and throat bacteria is a normal finding.



What abnormal results mean:

An abnormal result means bacteria or other organism is present. This is usually a sign of infection.



What the risks are:

This test is safe and well-tolerated. In very few patients, the sensation of gagging may lead to an urge to vomit or cough.



Special considerations:




Review Date: 9/3/2008
Reviewed By: D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University.  Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100