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Mycobactria Culture

An acid-fast bacteria (AFB) culture is done to find out if you have tuberculosis (TB) or another mycobacterial infection. Besides TB, the other main mycobacterial infections are leprosy and a TB-like disease that affects people with HIV/AIDS.

Acid-Fast Bacilli Smear with Culture Sensitivity is meant to detect, grow, isolate, identify, and then test, the sensitivity to antibiotics of acid-fast bacilli (AFB).

Related ArticlesAFB and Smear Culture
TB Culture
Mycobactria Culture
MTB 
Tuberculosis 
Test PurposeAFB culture is done to find out if you have tuberculosis (TB) or another mycobacterial infection.
Test PreparationsOvernight Fasting Is Mandatory For Gastric Lavage Specimens.
Test ComponentsAFB Culture
Specimen1. Blood/Bone Marrow: Collect 8 ML
2. CSF: Collect 2 ML (1 ML Min.)
3. Pus/Body Fluids (Pleural/Pericardial/Ascitic/ Synovial/Ocular) Aspirates /Semen/ BAL Bronchial Washings: Submit As Much As Possible (1 ML Min.)
4. Endometrial Curettings/Tissue: Submit In Sterile Normal Saline In A Sterile Screw Capped Container.
5. Swabs: Submit Swabs In 1 ML Sterile Normal Saline In Sterile Screw Capped Container.
6. Sputum/Urine: Submit 2 Spot (Random) Morning Samples, 5-10 ML (1 ML Min.) Sputum/10 ML (5 ML Min.) Urine In Sterile Screw Capped Container.
7. Gastric Lavage: Submit 5-10 ML (2 ML Min.) Gastric Lavage In A Sterile Screw Capped Container.
Stability Room2 Hrs
Stability Refrigerated48 Hrs
Stability FrozenN/A
MethodAutomated Fluorescent, ICT
Download ReportDownload Report
AFB Culture Purpoce, Types, Procedure and more

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Why do I need this test?

These are reasons you might need this test:

  • You have symptoms of a lung infection, such as chronic cough, coughing up blood, weight loss, fever, chills, and tiredness.
  • You have a positive TB skin or blood test and you are at high risk for exposure to TB or its progression to active disease. This includes those with HIV/AIDS or another condition that weakens your immune system. People who have been in hospitals, nursing homes, or correctional facilities are also at high risk.
  • You have symptoms of TB outside the lungs, a condition called extrapulmonary TB. These symptoms vary based on the site of infection. Most people think of TB as only a lung disease. But it can show up in other parts of the body. If it infects the spinal cord, for example, it can cause back pain and paralysis. In the kidneys, it often causes blood in the urine.
  • You have a condition like HIV/AIDS that puts you at increased risk of getting TB. If you have also been in close contact with someone who has TB, healthcare providers will want to test you for the disease.

Your healthcare providers may also give you this test from time to time if you are being treated for TB. This is to see if the treatment is working and to find out whether you are still infectious.

Specimen Collection Instructions

  1. Sputum
  2. Gastric Lavage
  3. Urine
  4. Pleural, Pericardial, Peritoneal, Spinal Fluid, Other Body Fluids
  5. Tissues and Biopsies
  6. Eswab
  7. Stool

1. Sputum

Specimen Type: Sputum
Container/Tube: Sterile leak-proof container

Volume: 10 mL

Minimum Volume: 5 mL
Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers. See also Special Collection Forms – Sputum Collection in the menu on the left

  1. Sputum must be first morning specimen.
  2. Prior to eating, rinse mouth with water.
  3. Expectorate into a sterile cup.
  4. Collect 5 to 10 mL of sputum in a sterile container in the morning.
  5. If the volume of sputum received is less than 1 mL, document on the report.
  6. Maximum of 3 expectorated sputum specimens, collected on separate days, will be tested on any one patient.
  7. If two specimens are received on a single day (except weekend collections), the specimens will be combined before concentration.
  8. Specimens collected by bronchoscopy will be accepted even if the patient has had 3 sputum specimens cultured prior to bronchoscopy.
  9. After therapy is initiated, subsequent cultures to follow therapy will be accepted.

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

2. Gastric Lavage

Specimen Type: Gastric Lavage – Collect if sputum is not obtainable
Container/Tube: Sterile container

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. Gastric contents are cultured on the premise that they contain sputum which has been swallowed, and are the specimen of choice for patients under 12 years old.
  2. Collect gastric contents in a sterile container in the morning prior to breakfast.
  3. If the specimen cannot be delivered to the lab within 4 hours for pH neutralization, request a sterile container with 100 mg of sodium carbonate for specimen collection.

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

3. Urine

Specimen Type: Urine
Container/Tube: Sterile container

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. An early morning, cleanly voided, mid-stream urine specimen collected in a sterile container and sent to the laboratory.
  2. Pooled 24 hour urine specimens will not be accepted.
  3. A maximum of three specimens, collected on separate days will be accepted.
  4. Volumes up to 100 mL will be concentrated by centrifugation for media inoculation.
  5. Urine collected in a gray top tube w/boric acid is an unacceptable specimen

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

4. Pleural, Pericardial, Peritoneal, Spinal Fluid, Other Body Fluids

Specimen Type: Pleural, Pericardial, Peritoneal, Spinal Fluid, Other Body Fluids
Container/Tube: Sterile container

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. Large volumes are required for optimal processing and results.
  2. Up to 100 mL will be concentrated by centrifugation for media inoculation.  Sterile collection containers must be used.

Transport Temperature: Ambient for spinal fluid, refrigerated for all other body fluids.

5. Tissues and Biopsies

Specimen Type: Tissues and Biopsies
Container/Tube: Sterile container

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. Collect aseptically and transported to the laboratory in a sterile container containing a small amount of sterile water or saline.
  2. Submitting surgically obtained material on a gauze pad should be strongly discouraged because the specimen will immediately begin to dry out.
  3. Such specimens should be place in a small sterile tube of sterile saline or water. Note: this may not be appropriate for histology specimens thereby requiring communications with the surgeon and pathologist to obtain a separate specimen for culture if possible.
  4. If there is not enough specimens to complete all the tests requested the Microbiology staff will call the floor and ask the physician to prioritize the order.

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

6. Eswab

Specimen Type: ESwab
Container/Tube: ESwab

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. Use of swabs for submitting specimens usually provides an inadequate sample to rule out a Mycobacterial or fungal infection.
  2. ESwabs will be accepted if no other means of obtaining the specimen are available. 
  3. When an ESwab is submitted for culture of Mycobacteria, a disclaimer statement will be given with the report to indicate the inappropriateness of swabs: “The results of this test may be compromised because a swab was submitted.  Swabs are not acceptable for culture or microscopy.  Tissue or an aspirate is required for wounds and surgical sites.”

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

7. Stool

Specimen Type: Stool
Container/Tube: Sterile container

Collection Instructions: Indicate source. Label with 2 patient identifiers.

  1. The laboratory will not routinely accept 24 hour stool specimens for culture.
  2. Stool specimens will be accepted only from patients suspected of having AIDS.
  3. Stool specimens will be given a direct examination with an acid-fast smear.  If the stain is negative, a culture will not be processed. 

Transport Temperature: Refrigerated

Test Frequency

Available daily, usual TAT: AFB Stain-24 hours; Culture 42 days.

Related Articles:

  • It describes how a bacterial sputum culture is used, when a bacterial sputum culture is […]
  • Pleural Fluid for AFB testing may be used to detect several different types of acid-fast […]
  • CSF for AFB testing may be used to detect several different types of acid-fast bacilli, […]
  • Bronchial Washing for AFB testing may be used to detect several different types of acid-fast […]
  • Sputum AFB testing may be used to detect several different types of acid-fast bacilli, but […]
  • An acid-fast bacteria (AFB) culture is done to find out if you have tuberculosis (TB) […]
  • An acid-fast bacteria (AFB) culture is done to find out if you have tuberculosis (TB) […]
  • An acid-fast bacteria (AFB) culture is done to find out if you have tuberculosis (TB) […]

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