Mycobacterial cultureCulture - mycobacterial
Mycobacterial culture is a test to look for the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and similar infections.
Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that involves the lungs. It may spread to other organs.
How the Test is Performed
A sample of body fluid or tissue is needed. This sample may be taken from the lungs, liver, or bone marrow.
Most often, a sputum sample will be taken. To obtain a sample, you will be asked to cough deeply and spit out the material that comes up from your lungs.
Sputum sample will be taken
Sputum stain for mycobacteria is a test to check for a type of bacteria that cause tuberculosis and other infections.
A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.
Aspiration means to draw in or out using a sucking motion. It has two meanings:Breathing in a foreign object (sucking food into the airway). A medic...
The sample is sent to a laboratory. There it is placed in a special dish (culture). It is then watched for up to 6 weeks to see if the bacteria grow.
How to Prepare for the Test
Preparation depends on how the test is done. Follow your health care provider's instructions.
How the Test will Feel
How the test will feel depends on the specific procedure. Your health care provider can discuss this with you before the test.
Why the Test is Performed
Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of tuberculosis or a related infection.
If there is no disease present, there will be no growth of bacteria in the culture medium.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Mycobacterium tuberculosis or similar bacteria is present in the culture.
Risks depend on the specific biopsy or aspiration being performed.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Culture - routine. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2013:409-411.
Fitzgerald DW, Sterling TR, Haas DW. Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 251.
Liver culture - illustration
During a liver biopsy, a needle is inserted into the liver and a tissue sample is withdrawn and sent to the laboratory for testing. The test is performed to determine the presence of tuberculosis infection in the liver.
Review Date: 12/10/2015
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.