Sputum Culture Aerobic Bacterial

Sunquest Code:SPTC  
Epic Code:LAB900Epic Name:Sputum Culture
Order Instructions:When ordering both a culture and a gram stain in Epic, use Epic Code o3046000107 for an inpatient or o4046000108 for an Ambulatory patient.
Synonyms:CX; SPTC
Test Includes:Gram stain screen for expectorated samples; culture of acceptable specimens for aerobic flora and Haemophilus.
Turnaround Time:Performed daily; results are reported within 3 days.
Special Instructions:AFB Culture requires a separate request form (see Mycobacteria Culture).
Associated Links:

IDDL (Microbiology/Virology) Collection Container Guidelines

Collection Instructions

Specimen:Sputum, deep cough or aspirate
Optimal Volume:3 mL
Minimum\Peds Volume:1 mL
Container:Plastic leakproof container, sterile
Collection Instructions:Expectorated sputum is not recommended for routine bacterial culture because of unavoidable contamination with upper respiratory flora. If possible, have the patient rinse mouth and gargle with water first. Ask the patient to cough deeply and expectorate coughed-up material into a sterile container. In seriously ill or debilitated patients, a transtracheal aspirate may be necessary.
Patient Preparation:Instruct patient to remove dentures, rinse mouth, and gargle with water; cough deeply and expectorate sputum into a sterile container. The specimen should not contain saliva.
Causes for Rejection:More than 10 epithelial cells per low power field, appearances of saliva.

Processing and Shipping

Specimen Processing:Store in refrigerator.
Shipping Instructions:Ship at refrigerated temperature. Must arrive within 24 hours.
Test Performed at or Referral Lab Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory  (Fairview Range - FRMC, UMMC-East Bank, Grand Itasca GICH)


Reference Range:No growth, normal flora.
Use:Lower respiratory cultures aid in the differential diagnosis of bacterial and tuberculosus, fungal, and nonbacterial pneumonia. If stains and cultures are negative for pathogens, the physician is alerted to look for other causes of chest disease, eg, tumors, viral diseases.

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