Sputum stain for mycobacteria

Sputum stain for mycobacteria is a test to check for a type of bacteria that cause tuberculosis and other infections.

How is the Test Performed?

This test requires a sample of sputum.

  • To do this, you will be be asked to cough deeply and spit the substance that comes up from the lungs (sputum) into a container.
  • You may be asked to breath in a mist of salty steam. This makes you cough more deeply and produce sputum.
  • If you still don't produce enough sputum, you might have a bronchoscopy.

The test sample is examined under a microscope. Another test, called a culture, is done to confirm the results. A culture test takes a few days to get results. This sputum test can give your doctor a quick, early answer.

Preparation for the Test

It can help to drink a lot of fluids the night before the test. It makes the test more accurate if it's done first thing in the morning.

How will the Test Feel?

There is no discomfort, unless a bronchoscopy needs to be performed.

Why is the Test Performed?

The test is performed when the doctor suspects tuberculosis or other Mycobacterium infection.

Normal Results for Sputum stain for mycobacteria

Results are normal when no mycobacterial organisms are found.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results show that the stain is positive for:

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellular
  • Other mycobacteria or acid-fast bacteria

Sputum stain for mycobacteria Risks

There are no risks, unless bronchoscopy is performed.

Considerations

To increase the accuracy of this test, it is sometimes done three times, often three days in a row.

There are more sophisticated tests that are sometimes used to stain sputum for mycobacteria. Check with your health care provider to see if these are available in the laboratory.

References

Septimus EJ. Pleural effusion and empyema.In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds.Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 65.

Murray PR, Witebsky FG. The clinician and the microbiology laboratory. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds.Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 17.

Related Images

Review Date: 12/6/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Hide
(web2)