Norm of Rectal Swab Culture
Negative for pathogenic organisms.
Usage of Rectal Swab Culture
Screening for causes of bacterial diarrhea such as Campylobacter, Chlamydia, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Salmonella, and Shigella; and detection of aerobic and anaerobic intestinal flora.
Description of Rectal Swab Culture
The rectal swab culture is a screening test for pathogenic organisms of the rectum.
Professional Considerations of Rectal Swab Culture
Consent form NOT required.
- Obtain a sterile culture swab, a closed sterile container, and drapes.
- The client should disrobe below the waist.
- Drape the client in the left lateral position with the knees and hips flexed.
- Gently insert a sterile, cotton-tipped swab at least 2.5–3 cm into the rectum. Rotate the swab from side to side and leave it in place for a few seconds to allow absorption of rectal flora.
- If the swab is being obtained for N. gonorrhoeae culture, the swab must be discarded and the procedure repeated if fecal material contaminates the swab.
- Place the swab in a sterile container and cover it tightly. If a Culturette is used, insert the swab into the medium compartment of the culture tube and crush the distal end to release the ampule of medium.
- Label the specimen with the site and collection time.
Client and Family Teaching
- The test is used to determine the potential bacterial cause of diarrhea.
Factors That Affect Results
- Swabs should be sent to the laboratory immediately.
- Refrigerate specimens not tested immediately.
- There is a high false-negative rate when testing for vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) in stool.
- The rectal culture is not used to determine carrier state.