The CultureStat Rapid UTI Detection System-Reinventing Microbiology
 
Most areas of medical testing are dynamic and rapidly evolving.  Increasingly sophisticated medical devices and diagnostic equipment have improved testing methods and diagnoses in almost every medical field.

Surprisingly, testing methods in the area of urine culture testing have not been significantly improved for well over a century.  Microbiologists have relied on agar plates for urine cultures since the 1880’s, and have been subject (as have doctors and patients who rely on lab results) to the many limitations of the agar plate testing methodology:  

  • Negative results not available for 24-48 hours
  • Positive results not available for 48-72 hours
  • First round false positive rate of 20-40%
  • First round false negative rate of 10-17%
  • Unreliable results due to: 
    • Inability to distinguish between log phase bacteria and lag phase bacteria
    • Sample custody issues (samples often transported between facilities, not tested for 8-24 hours from the time sample is collected, inconsistent refrigeration and incubation of samples)
    • Small sample size tested (1 microliter)
    • Only surface liquid from sample is collected in calibrated loop
    • High risk of contamination

Because the lab results for urine cultures are not available for 24-72 hours and are frequently unreliable due to inconsistent sample custody and other issues with the plating methodology, doctors often have no choice but to prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic to patients symptomatic of urinary tract infections or other infections without the benefit of timely and reliable test results.  Those patients who find out 2-3 days later that they do not have a UTI or other infection are therefore unnecessarily subjected to a broad spectrum (and expensive) antibiotic and may require additional medical testing for an ailment that has had an extra few days to cause harm. 

A number of alternative testing methods have been brought to market over the past 30 years ( including colormetric filtration, bioluminescence and enzymatic methods), but each such method has had one or more fundamental flaws which prevented it from effectively replacing the plate testing methodology on a widespread basis.  Screening samples using agar plates remains the dominant method used in hospital and independent laboratories, despite the method's many drawbacks.  Some laboratories try to combat their sample transportation and custody issues by using chemical preservatives such as boric acid, despite significant evidence that the boric acid is harmful to many organisms and leads to unrepresentative samples being tested.1 
 
A new solution to urine culture testing, one that solves the problems associated with current testing methods instead of patching over such problems, is long overdue.  Fortunately, with the introduction of the CultureStat Rapid UTI Detection System, that solution has arrived.  For information about CultureStat, see About CultureStat.
 
 1   J Clin Pathol. 1999 Feb; 52(2):95-8., Gillespie T, Fewster J, Masterton RG, “The Effect of Specimen Delay on Borate Urine Preservation.”