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About the test
What is this test done for?
To evaluate bacteria present in saliva.
Why is it Done?
  • Detecting infection present in lungs or respiratory tract
  • Detecting pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)
  • Deciding the medicine that will specifically kill the causative bacteria to cure the infection
  • Aiding in diagnosis of
    • Pneumonia
    • Bronchitis
    • Pulmonary abscess
    • Bronchiectasis
When should it be performed?

This test is performed when a patient has

  • Symptoms of pneumonia
    • Cough with expectoration
    • Expectoration – greenish yellow mucus or bloody mucus
    • Fever with chills or rigors
    • shortness of breath
    • Sharp pain in chest on coughing
    • Excessive sweating
    • Loss of appetite
    • Confusion
  • Hospitalized patient has cough with expectoration and presents with symptoms of pneumonia due to any of the following conditions
    • Intensive care unit (ICU) admission
    • Failure of outpatient antibiotic therapy
    • Active alcohol abuse
    • Severe obstructive lung disease
    • Pleural effusion
  • To monitor if treatment is successful with TB drugs
How is it done
An early morning sputum sample is collected in a clean sterile container. Before collecting the sample you must rinse your mouth with plain water.

The test result is normal, if no growth is seen in 48 hours. It means absence of respiratory tract infection.

The test result is abnormal, if growth of bacteria is seen. It could be

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lung abscess

The exact organism is identified by seeing under the microscope. After that this culture growth is exposed to various antibiotics and zone of inhibition is noted. A complete zone of inhibition with certain specific antibiotic suggests that the antibiotic used is the drug of choice for the ongoing infection

Other Tests
  • CBC
    • Very high WBC (white blood cells) count  in a CBC suggests infection
  • Sputum for AFB
    • Presence of AFB (acid fast bacilli) indicate Tuberculosis (infection with Mycobacterium tuberculae)
  • Blood Culture
    • Presence of bacteria indicate infection in the blood
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