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Respiratory Culture (not including Mycobacteria/TB)


Salivary specimens will not be processed as they are considered poor quality samples. Please consider repeating sample if clinically indicated.


Sputum, Bronchial Washings (BALs), Cough Swabs, ETT, Pleural Fluid

Specimen container

Sputum Pot, Universal, Charcoal swab

To Request On EPIC

For electronic requesting using EPIC (RDUH ONLY):

Search for: ‘Respiratory sample MC&S‘ or test code ‘LAB900

Special Instructions

Patients should be given instructions on specimen requirements. Saliva specimens will be rejected by the laboratory.

Please give relevant clinical information as this will affect how we process the sample e.g.:

  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Foreign travel in last 6 months
  • Risk of Legionnaire’s Disease
  • Recent antibiotic therapy
  • Risk factors for TB
  • If the patient is immunocompromised/immunosuppressed
  • Please indicate if you require fungal culture

If patient has Cystic Fibrosis, please state if this is a new patient, if it is a Annual Review specimen or if they have an acute exacerbation.

Do not repeat specimen under 48 hours.

Test Usage

Diagnosis of bacterial chest infections.

NB: We DO NOT routinely culture all samples for Mycobacteria/AFB (e.g. Tuberculosis.) If you are considering Mycobacteria, please request this specifically.


Local test

Processing Time

48-72 Hours

Useful Links

British Thoracic Society Guidelines

Sputum Culture – Lab Tests Online UK

Lung Diseases – Lab Tests Online UK

Cystic Fibrosis – NICE

Cystic Fibrosis – Lab Tests Online UK


Specimen Labelling Procedure
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