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Alternative Names Return to topSputum culture
Definition Return to top
Routine sputum culture is a test of secretions from the lungs and bronchi (tubes that carry air to the lung) to look for bacteria that cause infection.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
You will cough deeply and spit any sputum into a sterile cup. The sputum is then taken to the laboratory. There, it is placed in a special substance (medium) under conditions that allow the bacteria or fungi to grow.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
Drinking a lot of water and other fluids the night before the test may help to get the sample.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
You will need to cough. Sometimes the health care provider will tap on the chest to loosen deep sputum. There may be a steam-like mist to inhale to help you cough up the sample.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
The culture is done on the sputum to help identify the bacteria that are causing an infection in the lungs or airways (bronchi).
Normal Results Return to top
No presence of disease-causing organisms in the sputum is normal.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Abnormal results will be reported as a positive culture. That means that there is a disease-producing organism found that may help diagnose:
Other conditions under which the test may be performed:
Risks Return to top
There are no risks with this method of obtaining a sample.
Considerations Return to top
Sometimes a gram stain or AFB stain of the sputum done at the same time can help make the diagnosis.Update Date: 11/12/2007 Updated by: Arnold L. Lentnek, M.D., Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.