TB culture


Test indications

Investigation of suspected mycobacterial infection.

Test information

Investigation for TB in:

  • sputum
  • urine
  • bronchial washings etc.
  • tissue/biopsy specimens
  • other specimens as relevant (CSF, bone marrow, fluids etc.)
  • blood for AFB culture

Microscopy for AFB can be performed on the same day if urgent (please indicate clearly on request form reason for urgent request).

Within normal working hours, non-urgent microscopy is normally available within 48 hrs.

Culture for AFB takes up to 8 weeks and antibiotic sensitivities a further 2-4 weeks after initial isolation.

All positive results are notified by telephone and a preliminary report sent.

Please state relevant details e.g. contact history, ethnicity, other risk factors (e.g. HIV, IVDU).

PCR for TB on respiratory samples must be arranged via the Microbiology consultant.

Samples required

  • 3 separate sputum specimens
  • 3 early morning urines
  • Other specimens in sterile universal container
  • Blood for mycobacterial culture in special culture bottles only (please contact Pathology Stores).

Turnaround time*  

60 working days. 

*Quoted turnaround times are the time from receipt of specimen into the laboratory to 90% of reports leaving the laboratory. Stated times are based on normal working hours, Monday to Friday, excluding statutory bank and public holidays.