What is the purpose of a midstream urine culture or test?

A midstream urine culture or test is a urological investigation that can be done to diagnose and treat issues such as urinary tract infections (UTI) and non-visible blood in the urine.

Unlike other urinary tests, a mid-stream urine culture test takes urine from only the middle part of the flow of urine. By doing so you are more likely to give a sterile sample of urine, that is not contaminated by anything. Once the urine is collected it will be cultured; meaning that bacteria are given a chance to grow. This allows us to assess what infection may be present and we can then provide you with the information needed to treat it.

Urinary tract infections 

If bacteria are found in a mid-stream urine culture test then it usually means that the patient has a UTI, which we will need to treat. This will often cause symptoms such a pain while urinating or constant urge to urinate sometimes with cloudy and smelly urine. In children and elderly patients the typical symptoms may be absent but the patient can be rather non-specifically unwell. In these cases, a mid-stream urine culture can help establish the diagnosis.

Mid-stream urine tests can also be very helpful when trying to find the right medication to treat an otherwise hard-to-treat UTI. The bacteria that grow in the culture can be tested against a number of different antibiotics. Once they have found the right medication to eliminate the bacteria, the patient can be treated effectively.

Non-visible haematuria  

Non-visible haematuria means that there is blood present in the urine, however you are not able to see it (if you have visible blood in your urine it may be a pink/purple/bright red colour). Unfortunately, in approximately 1-3% of cases of non visible haematuria this can be caused by cancer of the urinary tract, however in most causes it is caused by something benign. In some of these cases it will be caused by an infection. The factors that can increase your risk of cancer being present include smokers, those over the age of 50 and those with a family history of kidney or bladder cancer

The MSU sample will provide evidence of the non visible haematuria and show whether a UTI is present or not.  It is important to mention that the urine should be checked some weeks after the infection is treated to ensure the blood is no longer present when  the urine is sterile.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.