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Prosthetic device culture

Prosthetic device culture is used to describe the bacteriological investigation of tissue, bone and joint fluid samples from prosthetic and native joints for the diagnosis of infection.

Specimen requirements

Revision arthroplasty, metalware related, orthopaedic device related, prosthetic joint fluid or biopsy and bone biopsy.

Bone, tissue and fluids are preferable and should be taken before starting antimicrobial therapy. Specimens should be sent in a sterile container.

Specimens should be transported and examined as soon as possible. However, if processing is delayed then refrigeration is recommended.

A maximum of five samples per patient are processed, unless they are all from different sites, in which case they all need to be processed. Use separate sterile instruments for each sample.

Label all samples clearly.

Surface and sinus swabs are generally not useful.

Laboratory turnaround time

Please see Turnaround times

Laboratory method

Samples are processed in the laboratory in such a way that they can be inoculated into BD Bactecâ„¢ FX culture bottles.

The bottles remain on the analyser for up to ten days, at which point any that have not flagged as positive, i.e. bacterial growth, are reported as 'no growth after ten days incubation'. Bottles which flag positive are followed up in the laboratory.

Any microbial growth is considered significant, as these samples are from sites that should otherwise be sterile.

Where to find results of these tests

  • All results are returned electronically where possible (EPR, SunquestICE).
  • Some results may be phoned to clinicians and GPs.
  • Results are never given directly to patients by the laboratory staff.

Further information and contact details

For further information please email:

Confidential patient information should only be sent from accounts.

Microbiology Laboratory Users Manual (pdf, 684 KB)