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Surface cultures

Surface culture describes the bacterial and fungal investigation of swabs from superficial and nonsurgical sites, for the diagnosis of infection.

Specimen requirements

Swabs should be sent in appropriate transport medium for testing and should be transported and examined as soon as possible. If specimen transport will be delayed, e.g. from primary care, specimens should be stored in a refrigerator until transported to the laboratory.

For Bordetella culture a per-nasal swab should be sent; a fine wire swab is available from the Microbiology Department or from Haematology Stores - please call 20368 from within the Trust.

Specimen types

State site samples in request along with any recent surgery and antibiotic treatment.

Laboratory turnaround time

Please see Turnaround times

Laboratory method

Samples are cultured onto a selection on inhibitory and non-inhibitory culture media in order to isolate any potential pathogens from the above specimens.

Bacterial identification and anti-microbial susceptibility testing is done by the AST/ID section of the laboratory.

The most common pathogens isolated from these samples are Staphylococcus aureus and beta-haemolytic Streptococci.

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)