Swab for Staph carriage

Alternative names
Culture - nasopharyngeal; Swab for respiratory viruses; Nasopharyngeal culture

Nasopharyngeal culture is a sample of nasopharyngeal secretions that is obtained and grown in a culture medium to detect the presence of organisms that can cause disease.

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
Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

How the test will feel
The patient may experience slight discomfort and may gag.

Why the test is performed
The test identifies microorganisms that cause upper-respiratory tract symptoms. Nasopharyngeal cultures are useful in identifying respiratory viruses, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bordetella pertussis, and Neisseria meningitidis (types of bacteria). The culture may be used to test for appropriate antibiotic therapy.

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

What abnormal results mean
Pathogens (any virus, bacteria, or fungus that can cause disease) are found.

What the risks are
There are no risks.

Special considerations
Not applicable.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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