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Culture - colonic tissue

A colonic tissue culture is a lab test to check for the cause of disease in a sample of tissue from the large intestine. The cause may be bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

Alternative Names

Colonic tissue culture

How the Test is Performed

The doctor removes a piece of tissue from your large intestine during a colonoscopy .

  • The sample is sent to a laboratory.
  • It is placed in a special dish containing a gel on which bacteria and other organisms can grow, and stored at a certain temperature.
  • The laboratory team checks the sample daily to see if bacteria, viruses, or fungi have grown.

If certain microorganisms grow, more tests will be done to identify them. This helps determine the best treatment.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no specific preparation needed for a culture.

How the Test will Feel

Once the sample is taken, the culture does not involve you. Therefore, there is no pain.

Why the Test is Performed

Your health care provider may order this test if you have signs or symptoms of an infection that can affect the large intestine. A culture is often done when other tests such as a stool culture could not identify the cause of infection.

Normal Results

A normal result means that no disease-causing organisms have grown in the laboratory dish.

Some "healthy" bacteria, called bowel flora, are normally found in the gut. The growth of such bacteria during this test does not mean there is an infection.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result means that disease-causing organisms have grown in the laboratory dish. These organisms may include:

  • Clostridium difficile bacteria
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria
  • Salmonella bacteria
  • Shigella bacteria

These organisms may lead to diarrhea or infections involving the colon.

Risks

There are no risks involved in a colonic tissue culture.

References

DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 291.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 142.

Giannella RA. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis and bacterial food poisoning. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 107.

Croft AC, Woods GL. Specimen collection and handling for diagnosis of infectious diseases. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.

Salwen MJ, Siddiqi HA, Gress FG, Bowne WB. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 22.

Fritsche TR, Selvarangan R. Medical parasitology. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 62.

Updated: 5/15/2014

Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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