Routine sputum culture
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.
Why the Test is Performed
The culture is done on the sputum to help identify the bacteria that are causing an infection in the lungs or airways (bronchi).
How the Test is Performed
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
Drinking a lot of water and other fluids the night before the test may help to get the sample.
How the Test Will Feel
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.
There are no risks with this method of obtaining a sample.
No presence of disease-causing organisms in the sputum is normal.
What Abnormal Results Mean
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:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Atypical mycobacterial infection
- Atypical pneumonia
- Coccidioidomycosis; acute (primary) pulmonary
- Coccidioidomycosis; chronic pulmonary
- Coccidioidomycosis; disseminated
- Disseminated tuberculosis (infectious)
- Histoplasmosis; acute (primary) pulmonary
- Histoplasmosis; chronic pulmonary
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia
- Mycoplasma pneumonia
- Pulmonary aspergilloma (mycetoma)
- Pulmonary aspergillosis; invasive type
- Pulmonary tuberculosis
- Viral pneumonia
Reviewed By: Arnold L. Lentnek, M.D., Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.