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Sputum Culture, Bacterial (088-0062)
Test Mnemonic:


Specimen Requirements:



Early AM deep cough - lower respiratory sample -collected specimens are recommended. Induced sputum collection by Respiratory Therapy tech. Tracheal aspirations.


Sterile container

Minimum Volume:



Room temperature.  Refrigerate if transport is delayed.


48 hours

Causes for Rejection:

Leaking container, more than one specimen submitted within a 72-hour time, specimen contaminated with upper respiratory tract secretions, insufficient quantity of sample for all requested tests. Specimen container unlabeled or labeled incorrectly. No date and time of collection or collector information on order.

Reference Range:

Normal respiratory flora

Turnaround Time:

 2-4 Days


Gram stain to confirm the adequacy of the specimen, then culture to identify potential pathogens, and perform susceptibility, if appropriate. 


Clinical Microbiology


Culture, sputum; Induced sputum culture; Culture, induced sputum

Clinical Indication:


Patient Preparation :

Deep productive cough, not saliva. Induced sputum

CPT 4 Code:

 87070- culture; 87205 - gram stain, additional codes in indicated


Each sample has a gram stain performed on it to ensure specimen adequately represents a lower respiratory  specimen.  The culture is not performed if the sample has many epithelial cells.

When ordering tests for which Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement will be sought, physicians should only order tests that are medically necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient. Components of the organ or disease panels may be ordered individually. The diagnostic information must substantiate all tests ordered and must be in the form of an ICD-10 code or its verbal equivalent.
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