Swabs (microbiology)


Test indications

Investigation of suspected infection.

Test information

State site of wound/swab and type and date of recent surgery/injury and antibiotics.

When interpreting results remember common pathogens (e.g. Staph. aureus) may also be found in normal flora.

Chronic wounds/ulcers will often be colonised with faecal flora and Pseudomonas which do not require systemic antibiotics.

Superficial swabs are poor predictors of deep/invasive infection.

Samples required

Swab in Stuart’s transport medium.

  • conjunctival
  • ear, nose, throat
  • vaginal, genital
  • wound/ulcer

Collect specimen after wound has been thoroughly cleaned to avoid colonising flora.

Turnaround time

Wound swabs: 4 working days (negative results typically available 2 days earlier)
Genital swabs: 2 working days ((includes microscopy for yeasts and Trichomonas vaginalis).

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.