Sputum

Please use plain white topped universal containers with screw-on lids. Specimens obtained by deep coughing or post-physiotherapy specimen are preferred. Saliva and pernasal secretions are not suitable as they will be contaminated with mouth flora and may give mis-leading results.

Ensure lids are tightly closed prior to sample transport to prevent leakage.

Culture of non-purulent material is not helpful as mouth flora inevitably predominates, and will be misleading except when M. tuberculosis is found. Inadequate specimens may be discarded and not tested.
For Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungal culture, at least three early morning specimens will give a more reliable result than a single sample.