Diagnosis of Gonorrhea

By  , Expert Content
Sep 20, 2011

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by infection with the bacteria neisseria gonorrhoeae.  Gonorrhoea is probably one of the oldest sexually transmitted diseases. The three laboratory techniques used to confirm the diagnosis of gonorrhoea include:


  • Staining samples directly for the bacterium.
  • Detecting bacterial genes or DNA in urine.
  • Growing the bacteria in laboratory cultures.


If your doctor suspects gonorrhoea, he may recommend more than one test so as to increase the chance of an accurate diagnosis.


Gram Stain for Gonorrhoea


In this test a smear is made from the discharge from the penis or cervix on a slide. This is stained with a dye and then examined under a microscope to identify the bacteria. It is an inexpensive and easy test and the results are usually available right away. The test is more accurate for men, as compared to women. Only about 50% of women with gonorrhoea will have a positive Gram stain.


Gene Detection to diagnose Gonorrhoea


This is a new test and it detects the genes of the bacteria. A sample of urine or cervical swabs is used for the test. This test is more accurate as compared to culturing the bacteria to diagnose infection with neisseria gonorrhoeae.


Culture to diagnose Gonorrhoea


This test involves placing a sample of discharge (from penis, cervix or throat) on a culture plate. The plate is then incubated for 48-72 hours to allow the bacteria to grow. The accuracy of the test depends on the way and site from which the sample is taken. Cultures are useful to detect:

  • Gonorrhoea in the cervix (the accuracy is about 90 percent).
  • Gonorrhoea in the throat.
  • Identifying drug-resistant forms of the bacteria.


Read more articles on Gonorrhea Diagnosis and Prognosis


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