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Vanderbilt Pathology Laboratory Services

Test Directory



CULTURE SPUTUM AFB (SPA)

Department: Microbiology
Test Synonym(s): SPA, Acid fast bacilli, Sputum culture
Test Components: AFB culture and stain
CPT Codes: 87116: culture, 87206: stain, 87015: concentration
Methodology: Culture and fluorochrome stain
Reference Range: Negative for acid fast bacilli
Tube Type: Sterile sputum container
Specimen: Sputum (No 24 hour specimens)
Volume: 5-10 mL
Temperature: Room temperature
Stability: Send to lab immediately
Reasons for Rejection: Specimen not received in appropriate sterile container, specimen received on a swab, specimen leaking, excessive delay in transport, or 24 hour specimen.
Days Performed: Daily
TAT: AFB smear: 24 hours. Culture: 6 weeks for negative culture. Varies for positive culture
Special Instructions: It is recommended that 3 sputum specimens should be collected for acid-fast smears and culture in patients with clinical and chest x-ray findings compatible with tuberculosis. These three samples should be collected at 8-24 hour intervals (24 hours when possible) and should include at least one first morning specimen. Specimens must be delivered to the laboratory promptly; specimens that cannot be processed within one hour of the time of collection should be refrigerated during transport to and storage in the laboratory prior to processing. This will decrease overgrowth with contaminating organisms likely to be present.

Fresh deep cough specimen - early morning specimen is best. No 24 hour specimens. AFB smear included with culture and has a separate charge. There will be separate charges for organism identification for positive cultures. AFB susceptibility testing is sent out to a reference laboratory. Mycobacterium tuberculosis susceptibility testing is done automatically by the TN State Lab. Susceptibility testing for other Mycobacterium species must be requested; these tests are sent to a reference laboratory.


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