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10 April 2012
Study debunks notion that urine is sterile

While urine cultures have been the gold standard to identify urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the past, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology shows that the adult female bladder contains forms of bacteria that are not identified by culture techniques.

"Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free," said Loyola University researcher Linda Brubaker. "However, these findings challenge this notion, so this research may have positive implications for how we treat patients with urinary tract conditions in the future."

This study evaluated urine specimens of women who had symptoms consistent with a UTI, but were free of known UTIs. Urine samples were collected from standard urination, through a catheter, or from a thin needle inserted into the abdomen while the women were under anesthesia. The urine was analyzed using advanced DNA-based detection methods.

The DNA-based tests showed that the adult female bladder can contain certain forms of bacteria that are not identified by urine culture techniques that are typically used to diagnose UTIs.

The researchers now plan to determine which bacteria in the bladder are helpful and which are harmful. They also want to look at how these bacteria interact with each other and with their host.

"Further studies are needed to determine if the bacteria found in the bladders of women in this study are relevant to urinary tract conditions," Brubaker said. "If that is the case, these studies could make it possible to identify women who are at-risk for these conditions."

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Source: Loyola University

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