Q:

What is panculture?

A:

A panculture is a test most commonly used in microbiology and medicine that includes a variety of different testing methods. The test is useful in identifying infections and contamination such as meningitis and neutropenia. The prefix "pan-" means "all" or "of everything" and stems from the Greek "panacea."

A standard panculture includes a full body test, including urinalysis, x-ray, sputum samples and blood cultures. However, the definition of panculture is literally the act of requesting all available samples and tests at once in order to identify an unknown infection. This has a mostly proven result, although some doctors argue that panculture testing is inadvisable with molecular testing. Doctors also drain and sample any pustules or abscesses present at the time of the culture in order to determine the cause and rule out various infections.

The test is mostly useful for patients complaining of painful neutropenia in order to rule out pneumonia and other diseases. Most doctors administer antibiotics as quickly as possible after recognizing an infection and may do so before or after obtaining samples. Antibiotics are almost always a followup to a panculture as well. This is because antibiotics can be critically lifesaving with some infections, such as meningitis.

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