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Bacterial Sputum Culture

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Also known as: Respiratory Culture; Bacterial Culture, respiratory; Sputum Culture, routine bacterial
Formal name: Culture, sputum

Were you looking instead for tests performed on sputum to detect fungi [see Fungal Tests] or mycobacteria (tuberculosis) [see AFB Smear and Culture]?

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To detect and identify the cause of bacterial pneumonia or some other lower respiratory tract infections; to monitor the efficacy of treatment

When to Get Tested?

When you have symptoms associated with a lower respiratory tract infection; when you have been treated for bacterial pneumonia or any other lower respiratory tract infection

Sample Required?

sputum sample (deep respiratory secretions, not saliva), usually collected first thing in the morning; sometimes, depending on the infection, up to 3 sputum samples might be collected over consecutive days.

Test Preparation Needed?

You may be instructed to rinse your mouth out with water prior to collection and to avoid food for 1-2 hours before the sample is collected.