How to Submit a Urine Specimen for Culture

Urine collected by cystocentesis provides the most accurate culture results. Appropriate specimen containers and transport allows the lab to provide the most accurate identification, quantification, and interpretation. Poor sample quality can result in false positive results and lead to unwarranted antibiotic usage.

Preferred Specimen Container

Urine Culture Transport Tubes (UTT) (gray top or yellow top) with appropriate volume (4 mL /cc) are the preferred specimen container for culture. Results include a quantitative assessment.

Urine Culture Transport Tube (4 mL/cc) with preservative
Urine Culture Transport Tube (4 mL/cc) with preservative
  • The UTTs contain boric acid preservative which prevents overgrowth and allows for a more accurate quantitative assessment. Volumes below the minimum risk the preservative ratio being toxic to the organisms.
  • Specimen should arrive to the lab as soon as feasible (the preservative allows transport within 48 hours). Urine culture transport tubes should not be used for urinalysis or cytology.
  • The preservative allows for room temperature transport or these vacutainer tubes come with a sterile straw transfer device.

Alternative Specimen Containers

If you don’t have a culture transport tube or you don’t have the minimum volume, sterile containers can be used (send to lab same day or overnight). Results include a quantitative assessment.

Any Sterile Container (no additives)
Any Sterile Container (no additives)
  • If a urine culture transport tube or the minimum volume is not available, a plain sterile container (i.e. red top tube, specimen cup) can be used. This is suitable for specimens that can be delivered immediately or overnight.
  • These unpreserved liquid specimens should be kept cool during transport.
     

Alternative Specimen Containers

Alternative Specimen Containers: If the volume is too small for a urine transport tube and the sample cannot get to the lab within 24 hours, send both the liquid urine and a transport swab of the urine. (Results include a semi-quantitative assessment)

  • For small volume samples Sterile Container and/or Transport Swabthat can’t get to the lab within 24 hours, a culture transport swab can also be taken of the urine. Both the swab and liquid specimen can be sent together.
  • These specimens should be kept cool during transport.

Specimen Transfer to Vacuette Urine Culture Transport Tubes

Specimen transfer to Vacuette Urine Culture Transport Tubes
4mL Urine from syringe can be transferred directly to the Vacuette urine culture tube

NOTE: if urine is being submitted for urinalysis/cytology it must be submitted separately in a plain tube or specimen cup without additive.

The transfer straw can be used to draw up urine from cup or tube.

Transfer Straw for Urine Culture

Immerse the straw into the urine (4mL minimum required)
 

Urine Culture CUp

While the straw is immersed, insert the vacuette into the straw device to draw up the urine. The tubes are prevacuumed to draw up the appropriate amount. Insert the Vacuette into the straw device.
Mix the specimen to dissolve the preservative.

Mix the specimen to dissolve the preservative.

CAUTION The straw device has a needle and should be disposed of as a medical sharp.

Caution The straw device has a needle and should be disposed of as a medical sharp.

Version Jun 2019
Adapted from the NH Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, 21 Botanical Lane, Durham, NH 03824

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