Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Sputum Cytology

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include a sample that is too small; is dried out; contains only saliva; or is from nasal secretions, not your airway.

What To Think About

  • There is a chance of false-negative test results with sputum cytology. This means that the test shows a lung condition is not present when it actually is present. Follow-up testing may need to be done if your symptoms continue.
  • A sputum culture is a test to find and identify bacteria or fungi that are infecting the lungs or breathing passages. It is also done to identify the best antibiotic to treat a lung infection. To learn more, see the topic Sputum Culture.
  • Bronchoscopy or a needle lung biopsy are more commonly used than sputum cytology because the results provide more information about airway problems.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Last Revised November 1, 2012
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Hot Tub Disease
Article
Lung Disease Health Check
HEALTH CHECK
 
Cigarette butts in ashtray
Article
Household Hazards For People With Copd
Article
 

Bronchitis Overview
SLIDESHOW
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
QUIZ
 
Living With Copd
VIDEO
Energy Boosting Foods
SLIDESHOW
 

cigarette butts snuffed out in ashtray
SLIDESHOW
Healthy Home Health Check
TOOL
 
Senior woman stretching
Article
Diagnosing Copd
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections