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back to articles on "Patient Information on Common Laboratory Tests"
Throat Culture

Throat Culture

Laboratory Test

What is the test?

Your doctor will request a throat culture if he or she suspects you have strep throat.

How do I prepare?

There is no special preparation for a throat culture. Do not gargle or use mouthwash before having your throat culture done, as this may alter the results of the test.

How is the test done?

A laboratory technician will use a long cotton-tipped Q-tip or swab to collect cells from the back of your throat by swiping it quickly. These cells are then placed in a medium, which will grow into a culture over a period of 24 to 48 hours. This culture is examined by a microbiologist to determine if it is beta strep, which causes strep throat.

How and when will I get my test results?

Throat culture results are available as soon as the cells have cultured, typically within two days. The results will be sent directly to your doctor, who will share them with you. Rapid strep A testing is available upon physician request.

Where is the test performed?

A throat culture may be performed in your doctor’s office and sent to the medical center’s laboratory for culturing. Or you may go to any of Cayuga Medical Center’s five Laboratory sites. The locations are:  Cayuga Medical Center at 101 Dates Drive in Ithaca; the Cayuga Professional Building at 1301 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca; 5 Evergreen Street in Dryden; Convenient Care at Ithaca on Arrowwood Drive off Warren Road; and Convenient Care at Cortland on Route 281 and Commons Avenue.

If you have questions regarding lab testing, you can reach the Cayuga Medical Center Laboratory at (607) 274-4474.

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