A rectal culture test is performed by inserting a cotton swab in the rectum. The swab is rotated gently, and withdrawn. A smear of the swab is placed in culture media to encourage the growth of microorganisms. The test is performed to isolate and identify organisms in the rectum that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and/or disease.
Review Date 4/11/2020
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.