PTD - 134

return to S index  

return to index page

Test Directory -  Sputum

Test Includes

Bacterial culture unless the sample is muco-salivary and, therefore unsuitable
Antibiotic sensitivity testing will be performed on potential pathogens

Microscopy for acid fast bacilli (AFB)
Culture for Mycobacteria

Request Form 

Microbiology form (Green)


On request

Specific Criteria

An early morning deep cough specimen collected before eating, drinking or cleaning teeth is required. Saliva is not satisfactory, and such specimens will be discarded
Specimens MUST arrive in Microbiology on the day they are collected
Please give detailed clinical information, including date of onset/contact with the suspected infection, and any current, or intended, antibiotic therapy

Turnaround Time

Microscopy for AFB - next normal working day
Culture: routine - 24 hours if no pathogens isolated; 48 hours if bacterial identification and antibiotic sensitivity testing is required

Mycobacteria - 6 to 8 weeks for a negative report




White capped universal


Samples should be transported to laboratory on day of collection

Lab. Handling

Process on receipt 

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled sample
Sputum will only be examined if received on the day of expectoration
Specific criteria not met


Version 1.0 / November 2013

Last edited 16/04/14