Reference Index - Medical Tests

Back to Health Library

Nasopharyngeal culture
Nasopharyngeal culture


Nasopharyngeal culture

Definition:

Nasopharyngeal culture is a sample of secretions from the uppermost part of the throat, behind the nose, to detect organisms that can cause disease.



Alternative Names:

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



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:

There is no special preparation necessary.



How the test will feel:

You may experience slight discomfort and may gag.



Why the test is performed:

The test identifies viruses and bacteria that cause upper respiratory tract symptoms. Nasopharyngeal cultures are useful in identifying respiratory viruses, and bacteria such as:

  • Bordetella pertussis
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Staphylococcus aureus

The culture may be used to help determine which antibiotic therapy is appropriate.



Normal Values:

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



What abnormal results mean:

The presence of any disease-causing virus, bacteria, or fungus means these organisms may be involved in your infection.



What the risks are:

There are no risks.




Review Date: 10/15/2009
Reviewed By: Daniel Levy, MD, Infectious Disease, Maryland Family Care, Lutherville, MD. 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.
adam.com


Greater Baltimore Medical Center | 6701 North Charles Street | Baltimore, MD 21204 | (443) 849-2000 | TTY (800) 735-2258
© 2014  GBMC. This website is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with a professional healthcare provider.