How It Is Done continued...
Some people may need bronchoscopy to collect a sputum sample. During
bronchoscopy, a thin, lighted tube (bronchoscope) is inserted through your
mouth or nose into the airways leading to your lungs. You will be given
medicine that numbs your throat and nose so you do not feel discomfort from
the bronchoscope. You may also be given a sedative to make you sleepy during
the procedure. To collect the sputum sample, a salt solution may be washed into
the airway and then suctioned into a container. A small, thin brush may be used
to collect a sample.
A sputum sample can also be collected using
suction. During this procedure, a soft, flexible tube (called a nasotracheal
catheter) is inserted through the nose and down the throat. Suction is applied
for up to 15 seconds to collect the sputum sample. This method of collecting a
sputum sample is often used for people who are very sick or unconscious.
After a sample is collected
sputum sample is collected, it will be placed in a container with substances
(growth medium or culture medium) that promote the growth of infecting
organisms (bacteria or fungi). Bacteria usually need 2 to 3 days to grow. Fungus often takes a week or longer to grow. The organism that causes
tuberculosis may take 6 weeks to grow. Any bacteria or fungi that grow will be
identified under a microscope or by chemical tests. Sensitivity testing, to
determine the best antibiotic to use against the organism that grows, often
takes 1 to 2 more days.
How It Feels
If you have discomfort when taking a deep
breath or when coughing, obtaining a sputum sample may be uncomfortable. If you
need to inhale the aerosol mist to produce a sputum sample, you will often feel
a deep, uncontrollable urge to cough.
During bronchoscopy or
collection of a sputum sample using a catheter, you may feel a strong urge to
cough as the bronchoscope or catheter passes into the back of your throat. You
may also feel as if you cannot breathe. Try to relax and breathe slowly while
the bronchoscope or catheter is in place. If you are given medicine to numb
your throat and nose, you may feel as if your tongue and throat are swollen and
that you cannot swallow.
Your throat may feel sore following bronchoscopy
or collection of a sputum sample using a nasotracheal catheter.
you have severe
bronchitis, you may find it hard to breathe
during collection of a sputum sample using a nasotracheal catheter.
A sputum culture is a test to detect and
identify bacteria or
fungi that are infecting the lungs or breathing
passages. Some types of bacteria or fungi grow quickly in a culture and some
grow slowly. Test results may take from one day to several weeks, depending on
the type of infection suspected. Some organisms (such as Chlamydophila pneumoniae and mycoplasma) do not grow in a
standard culture and need a special growth medium to be detected in a sputum
Sputum that has passed through
the mouth normally contains several types of harmless bacteria, including some
types of strep (Streptococcus) and staph (Staphylococcus). The culture should
not show any harmful bacteria or fungi. Normal culture results are
Harmful bacteria or fungi are
present. The most common harmful bacteria in a sputum culture are those that
tuberculosis. If harmful bacteria or fungi grow, the culture
If test results point to an infection, sensitivity testing
may be done to determine the best antibiotic to kill the bacteria or fungus.