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Study Debunks Common Myth That Urine Is Sterile

Researchers have determined that bacteria are present in the bladders of some healthy women, which discredits the common belief that normal urine is sterile. These findings were published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology by researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM).

"Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free," said Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, dean, SSOM. "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 urinary tract infection (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 for gynecologic surgery. The urine was analyzed using advanced DNA-based detection methods. These tests determined 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.

"While urine cultures have been the gold standard to identify UTIs in the past, they have limited utility," said Alan Wolfe, PhD, co-author and professor of Microbiology and Immunology, SSOM. "They are not as effective as the DNA-based detection measures used in this study."
 
 

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