Pus and swabs

Abscess pus, abscess swab, deep-seated pus swab, post-operative wound swab, wound exudates :

Collect specimens before antimicrobial therapy where possible.

The specimen will usually be collected by a medical practitioner.

Samples of pus are preferred to swabs. However, pus swabs are often received (when using swabs, the deepest part of the wound should be sampled, avoiding the superficial microflora). Swabs should be well soaked in pus.

Swabs for bacterial and fungal culture should be placed in the transport medium provided in the tube.

If possible a few ml of pus in a sterile universal bottle or even a few drops still in a syringe is much better than a swab. ( N.B The syringe must be safely capped and needles should NOT be sent)

Ideally, a minimum volume of 1mL of pus is required.

The volume of specimen influences the transport time that is acceptable. Large volumes of purulent material maintain the viability of anaerobes for longer.

Numbers and frequency of specimen collection are dependent on clinical condition of the patient.

If delays in transportation to the laboratory are unavoidable then the samples should be kept in a refrigerator.

The recovery of anaerobes is compromised if the transport time exceeds 3hr.

Surgical Specimens and tissue/bone samples


For Orthopaedic samples please use the Universals containing beads in saline.
Please small bits of tissue into these containers ( no more than 1cm sized), and attach patients identification label to the container.

For all other tissue samples:
Use dry sterile universal containers.

Make sure specimens are sent to the laboratory ASAP if this is not possible refrigeration is preferable to storage at ambient temperature, however the recovery of anaerobes is compromised if the transport time exceeds 3 hours.

The laboratory (or on-call BMS) MUST be informed if the specimen is urgent or requires processing out of hours.