• Lung Care Foundation
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  • lung@lcf.org.in
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What is Sputum ?

Sputum is a thick sticky fluid produced in the lungs and the adjacent air passages.

How is sputum collected ?

  • Sputum can be brought out by act of coughing for this you will be required to rinse out your mouth to help get rid of other bacteria. Thereafter, you take a few deep breathes and coughs forcefully and bring out the sputum which is spit directly into a sterile container.
  • In patients who are on ventilator or tracheostomy tube (breathing tube), the sputum is collected by suctioning via sterile catheter directly into a sterile container.
    In both situations, the container should be transported to the laboratory at the earliest so that the bacteria do not die.

What does a Sputum sample test for ?

The Examination of Sputum can reveal vital information about the disease affecting the lungs.

  • A sputum culture is a test to detect and identify bacteria or fungus in the lungs or air passages. A sample of sputum is placed directly into a sterile container and transported to the laboratory at the earliest for culture.
  • Sputum test can detect Tuberculosis: Sputum examination is also most important method is most important method for diagnosing Lung Tuberculosis by looking for presence of Tuberculosis bacteria (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) It can be examined directly under the microscope (which detects live as well as dead bacteria) and also can be cultured to detect the presence of live bacteria. This can then be tested for its sensitivity to various Anti-Tubercular drugs (Drug Sensitivity testing- vital for diagnosis and treatment for Multi Drug Resistant i.e. MDR Tuberculosis.
  • Sputum test can detect Cancer: Sputum can also be examined for cancer cells to detect presence of various types of cancer in the lungs
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