Blood culture test

What is a blood culture test?

A blood culture is a diagnostic test that detects the presence of foreign microorganisms (germs) such as bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens in the blood samples. The blood sample is put into a special container/dish in a lab and observed to see if germs grow.

This test is frequently used to diagnose infections and assess if germs have entered the bloodstream. It helps identify the specific germs causing an infection and enables additional testing to determine the most suitable treatment.

Other names for the test: Blood culture and sensitivity and Blood C/S.

Who conducts blood culture test?

A nurse or a laboratory technician draws a blood sample, which is then analyzed in the laboratory as part of the blood culture test.

Why blood culture test is advised?

A blood culture test is generally ordered if the doctor suspects a possible widespread infection in the blood or if they suspect sepsis. Symptoms of sepsis that may lead a doctor to suggest a blood culture test include
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced urine output
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Elevated heart rate or rapid breathing
A blood culture test is also recommended for more severe infections, like:
  • Infections of the heart valves
  • Infections affecting bones
  • Meningitis, an infection affecting the tissues around the brain and spinal cord.
  • Infections related to implantable medical devices such as catheters, artificial joints, or pacemakers

Why is it done?

Ultrasound is used for many reasons.

  1. Pregnancy monitoring: Visualizing the developing baby’s health.
  2. Gallbladder disease diagnosis: Identifying and assessing conditions affecting the gallbladder.
  3. Blood flow evaluation: Examining and detecting abnormalities or blockages in blood vessels.
  4. Breast lump examination: Assisting in evaluating breast lumps and distinguishing between benign and potentially malignant growths.
  5. Thyroid gland assessment: Examining the thyroid gland to identify nodules or abnormalities.
  6. Genital and prostate issue detection: Detecting and evaluating problems related to reproductive organs.
  7. Joint inflammation assessment: Evaluating inflammation in the joints, aiding in diagnosing and managing conditions like arthritis.
  8. Metabolic bone disease evaluation: Assisting in diagnosing metabolic bone diseases and providing information on bone health and density.


A nurse or laboratory technician will clean the skin and use a thin needle to draw blood from one vein. Multiple blood samples are generally collected from different veins to help increase the chance of detecting the bacteria or fungi in the bloodstream. After drawing the blood, the technician covers the site with a bandage. The blood sample is analyzed in the laboratory where it’s cultured.

During a blood culture test, a lab technician places a portion of the blood sample onto a dish containing a growth-promoting material called a culture. This dish is then carefully observed over 24 hours to detect any visible signs of germ growth if they are present in the blood.

A positive blood culture indicates the presence of a bacterial or yeast infection in the bloodstream. The results of the blood culture test assist doctors in identifying the specific bacteria or fungi responsible for the infection.

Once the organism is identified, the doctor may conduct a sensitivity or susceptibility test. This additional test helps determine the most effective medication to fight the particular organism detected. Running a sensitivity test is standard practice following a positive blood culture, and it can also be done if an infection is not responding to initial treatment.


  1. What is a blood culture test? Available from: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-a-blood-culture-test
  2. Blood culture. Available from: https://www.testing.com/tests/blood-culture/
  3. Blood Culture. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/blood-culture

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