A  A  A   Print
Sputum CultureCultivo de esputo

Sputum Culture

Does this test have other names?

No.

What is this test?

This test finds out what's causing your lung infection. Sputum, or phlegm, is the mucus that settles in the lower airways of your lungs when you have an infection or a chronic illness.

A lung infection like pneumonia can cause you to cough up phlegm. Other conditions, including bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, can also cause coughing and make it difficult to breathe. This test helps your doctor find out whether the buildup of phlegm in your lungs is caused by bacteria, fungi, or another microorganism. Knowing the cause of your infection can help your doctor decide on the right treatment for you.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your doctor suspects that you have a lung infection, such as pneumonia, especially if you're coughing up a lot of phlegm.

You may also have this test if you have severe pneumonia and are admitted to the hospital.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order an X-ray, blood culture, sputum Gram stain, or urine antigen test to find the source of your infection.

If your doctor suspects a chronic lung condition, you may have other tests, including:

  • CT scan

  • Pulmonary function test to see how well your lungs work

  • Complete blood count

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein tests to look for inflammation

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Normal results are negative, meaning you don't have a lung infection. A positive result means bacteria were found, but it may not pinpoint the exact cause of your condition. Some bacteria are normally found in the lungs and cause no problems. Your doctor may have to do other tests to a make a diagnosis.

How is this test done?

The test requires a sputum sample from deep inside your lungs. You may need to rinse your mouth with water first, then cough up enough mucus for a culture sample to be taken. If you can't cough up enough fluid, your doctor may use a bronchoscope to get a sample for testing. This instrument is a narrow, flexible tube with a light on it.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

Taking antibiotics can cause a false-negative result, because these medicines may kill the bacteria causing the problem.

How do I prepare for the test?

You may need to stop taking antibiotics before the test. You may also need to avoid eating for one to two hours before the test, or longer if your doctor plans to use a bronchoscope to get the sample.

 

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.