Wound culture

AsseyMethod: Microb Culture
Abbrevation: Wound/C
Sector: Microbiology
SampleType: Wound .dis
S.Vol: -
Transport: at RT
Storage: The same time must be analysis
Test Name: Wound culture
Normal Range: -

This test is related to
Why get tested?

To detect a bacterial wound infection, to determine which specific bacteria are present, and to isolate and grow the bacteria for subsequent susceptibility testing

When to get tested?

When the doctor suspects that your wound is infected by a pathogenic microorganism

Sample required?

Usually a sterile swab used to collect cells or pus from the site of the suspected infection. Occasionally aspirations of fluid from deeper wounds into a syringe and/or a tissue biopsy may be required.

Test preparation needed?

No test preparation is needed.


What is being tested?

A bacterial wound culture is a test that is used to detect and identify pathogenic bacteria in a potentially infected wound. Wounds may be superficial breaks in the skin such as scrapes, cuts and scratches or may involve deeper tissues such as incisions, bites, punctures or burns. Any wound may become infected with a variety of bacteria. A culture helps to determine which type or types of bacteria are causing an infection, and which antibiotic would best treat the infection and help heal the wound.

A culture is performed by collecting a sample of fluid, cells or tissue from the wound and placing it on or in appropriate nutrient media. The media encourages the growth of bacteria that may be present, allowing for further testing and identification. Typically if a person has a wound infection, there will either be a pure culture of the microorganism - only one kind will be found, or one type will predominate. In some cases, for instance with a human or animal bite, there may be several pathogens present. Since wounds may be superficial or involve deep tissue, they may harbour different types of bacteria that have different requirements for growth. Some bacteria infecting a wound may require air for growth (aerobic) while some require a no-oxygen or reduced-oxygen environment (anaerobic or microaerophilic). Care must be taken when handling the samples so that their growth is encouraged and the probability of their detection and identification are optimized.

The next step in the process is to identify the different types of microorganisms present. Identification is a step-by-step process that may involve many tests and evaluations performed on the bacteria found growing in the culture. One such test, the Gram stain, involves smearing individual colony types onto glass slides and treating them with a special stain. Under the microscope, the bacteria can be classified into Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms and by shape into cocci (spheres) or rods. With this information and additional biochemical tests, the types of bacteria present can be identified.

For many of the pathogens identified in the wound culture, antimicrobial susceptibility testing is required to guide treatment and to determine whether the strain of bacteria present is likely to respond to specific antibiotics. In order to do this, a pure culture (isolate) of the identified bacteria must be available, which may require additional time in the laboratory to separate and identify each bacterial species.  

The wound culture, Gram stain test, and susceptibility testing all contribute to inform the doctor which pathogen(s) are present and what antibiotic therapy is likely to inhibit their growth.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A sterile swab may be used to collect cells or pus from a superficial wound site. From deeper wounds, aspirations of fluid into a syringe and/or a tissue biopsy are the optimal specimens to allow for the recovery of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.