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Small intestine aspirate and culture

Small intestine aspirate and culture is a lab test to check for infection in the small intestine.

How the Test is Performed

A sample of fluid from the small intestine is needed. A procedure called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is done to get the sample.

The fluid is placed in a special dish in the laboratory. It is watched for growth of bacteria or other organisms. This is called a culture.

How the Test will Feel

You are not involved in the test once the sample is taken.

Why the Test is Performed

Your health care provider may order this test if you have signs of too much bacteria growing in the intestinal tract. In most cases, other tests are done first. This test is rarely done outside of a research setting. In most cases, it has been replaced by a breath test that checks for excess bacteria in the small bowel.

Normally, small amounts of bacteria are present in the small intestine and they do not cause disease. However, the test may be done when your doctor suspects that excess growth of intestinal bacteria is causing diarrhea.

Normal Results

No bacteria should be found.

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

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be a sign of infection.

Risks

There are no risks associated with a laboratory culture.

References

Dupont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 283.

Fritsche TR, Pritt BS. Medical parasitology. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 63.

Gerding DN, Young VB. Clostridium difficle infection. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 245.

Gerding DN, Johnson S. Clostridial infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 296.

Haines CF, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 110.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 140.

Siddiqi HA, Salwen MJ, Shaikh MF, Bowne WB. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 22.

Review Date 4/11/2018

Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.