Sensitivity analysis

Alternative names 
Antibiotic sensitivity


This test determines the effectiveness of antibiotics against microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that have been isolated from cultures.

Sensitivity analysis may be performed along with:

  • blood culture  
  • urine culture (clean catch) or urine culture (catheterized specimen)  
  • sputum culture  
  • culture from endocervix  
  • throat culture  
  • wound and other cultures

How the test is performed
Colonies of microorganisms are combined with different antibiotics to see how well each antibiotic stops them from growing. The test determines the effectiveness of each antibiotic against the particular organism.

How to prepare for the test
There is no special preparation.

How the test will feel
The way the test feels depends upon the method used for obtaining the specific culture.

Why the test is performed
The test shows which antibiotic drugs should be used to treat an infection.

What abnormal results mean

If the organism shows “drug resistance” to the antibiotics used in the test, then none of those antibiotics will be effective treatment.

What the risks are
The risks depend upon the method used for obtaining the specific culture.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Dave R. Roger, M.D.

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