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Best Technique for Obtaining Wound Cultures

Spear, Marcia DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN

doi: 10.1097/PSN.0b013e31824a7e53
Departments: Wound Care Management

Infection is a major impairment in delayed and nonhealing chronic wounds. Cultures of chronic wounds are not routinely performed unless there is a clinical suspicion of infection. The culture is then indicated to identify the causative organism and to guide antibiotic therapy, systematically and topically. The deep tissue biopsy is regarded as the gold standard for identification of wound bioburden and clinical infection. However, controversy persists among practitioners as to the relevancy of doing cultures and the technique to use. This article will explore the various techniques used in clinical practice to obtain cultures for diagnosing wound infections.

Marcia Spear, DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN, received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is faculty at both the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University. She has more than 15 years of experience in plastic surgery and wound care and is presently working as a nurse practitioner and certified wound specialist for the Department of Plastic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Address correspondence to Marcia Spear, DNP, ACNP-BC, CWS, CPSN, Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, S-2221, Medical Center North, Nashville, TN 37232 (e-mail:

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses