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Nasopharyngeal culture


Alternative names

Culture - nasopharyngeal; Swab for respiratory viruses; Swab for Staph carriage

Definition

Nasopharyngeal culture is a sample of nasopharyngeal secretions that is obtained and grown in a culture medium to detect the presence of organisms that can cause disease.

How the test is performed

You will be asked to cough before the test begins and then tilt your head back. A sterile cotton-tipped swab is gently passed through the nostril and into the nasopharynx, the part of the pharynx that covers the roof of the mouth. The swab is quickly rotated and then removed.

How to prepare for the test

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child's age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:
  • Infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)
  • Toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)
  • Preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)
  • Schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)
  • Adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

The patient may experience slight discomfort and may gag.

Why the test is performed

The test identifies microorganisms that cause upper-respiratory tract symptoms. Nasopharyngeal cultures are useful in identifying respiratory viruses, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bordetella pertussis, and Neisseria meningitidis (types of bacteria). The culture may be used to test for appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Normal Values

The presence of organisms commonly found in the nasopharynx is normal.

What abnormal results mean

Pathogens (any virus, bacteria, or fungus that can cause disease) are found.

What the risks are

There are no risks.

Special considerations

Not applicable.

Update Date: 1/26/2004

Daniel Levy, M.D., Ph.D., Infectious Diseases, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT
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