Original Article|Articles in Press

Is it meaningful to apply midstream urine culture to urine specimens with negative Gram stain results?



      Gram staining is a convenient method for bacterial estimation. Urine culture is typically used to diagnose urinary tract infections. Therefore, urine culture is also performed on Gram stain-negative urine specimens. However, the frequency of uropathogen identification in these samples remains unclear.


      From 2016 to 2019, we retrospectively compared the results of Gram staining and urine culture tests on midstream urine specimens submitted for the diagnosis of urinary tract infections to confirm the significance of urine culture on Gram stain-negative specimens. Analysis was performed according to the patients’ sex and age, and the frequency of uropathogen identification in the culture was examined.


      A total of 1763 urine specimens (women, 931; men, 832) were collected. Of these, 448 (25.4%) were not positive on Gram staining but were positive on culture. In specimens without bacteria on Gram staining, the frequencies of specimens with uropathogens detected on culture were 20.8% (22/106) in women aged <50 years, 21.4% (71/332) in women aged ≥50 years, 2.0% (2/99) in men aged <50 years, and 7.8% (39/499) in men aged ≥50 years.


      In men aged <50 years, the frequency of uropathogenic bacteria identification by urine culture was low in Gram stain-negative specimens. Therefore, urine cultures may be excluded from this group. In contrast, in women, a small number of Gram stain-negative specimens showed significant culture results for the diagnosis of urinary tract infection. Therefore, urine culture should not be omitted in women without careful consideration.


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