Collection of Sputum Samples

Send the specimen in a wide-mouthed container. The best specimens are those produced early in the morning from a deep cough, before the patient drinks, eats or cleans their teeth. Specimens which are more than 48 hrs old will not be processed. (Minimum sample volume is approx 1ml).

If sputum is to be examined for M tuberculosis, three separate specimens should be sent on consecutive days – ideally the first specimen of the day. For the diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), induced sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage is more reliable. Please discuss with Consultant Medical Microbiologist. Sputum specimens must be sent in separate bags.

If Legionella or Pneumococcal antigen is to be excluded, please send a urine sample in either a plain universal or boric acid container.

Last updated: April 6, 2020