A viral culture is a laboratory test in which a small sample of tissue or fluid that may be infected is collected and placed in a container along with cells in which a virus can grow. If a virus grows in the culture, it causes changes in the cells that can be seen under a microscope, and the virus can be identified.

It may take several weeks for a viral culture to grow and be tested. Then it may help a doctor learn the cause of an infection.

Current as of: September 9, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease