A sputum culture is a test to detect and identify bacteria or Reference fungi Opens New Window (plural of fungus) that are infecting the lungs or breathing passages. Sputum is a thick fluid produced in the lungs and in the airways leading to the lungs. A sample of sputum is placed in a container with substances that promote the growth of bacteria or fungi. If no bacteria or fungi grow, the culture is negative. If organisms that can cause infection grow, the culture is positive. The type of bacterium or fungus will be identified with a microscope or by chemical tests.
If bacteria or fungi that can cause infection grow in the culture, other tests may be done to determine which antibiotic will be most effective in treating the infection. This is called Reference susceptibility or sensitivity testing.
This test is done on a sample of sputum that is usually collected by coughing. For people who can't cough deeply enough to produce a sample, they can breathe in a mist solution to help them cough.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference November 1, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology