Lab Test

Culture, Fluid

Fluid Culture, Sterile, Fluid Culture and Sensitivity

Test Codes





  • Fluid specimens should NOT be collected with swabs. This approach does NOT provide adequate specimen volume and may adversely compromise culture and smear results.
  • Gram Stain will be performed on all specimens of adequate volume. Gram Stains will NOT be performed on organ preservation fluid.
  • An aerobic and anaerobic culture is included as part of this test.

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect: Fluid specimen from any normally sterile site in a sterile collection container or sterile sealed syringe (without the needle). Optimal volume is 18-20 mL, but smaller quantities will be accepted.

Specimen sources include:

  • Aspirates.
  • Bile (obtained surgically).
  • Fluid (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, joint/synovial, ascites).
  • Organ preservation fluid (i.e., HTK for kidney and liver transplantation).
  • "Sulfur granules" from drainage.

Transport specimen to the Laboratory immediately after collection.

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Arrange for transportation to the Laboratory prior to specimen collection. Courier Services may be contacted for a STAT pickup. Sterile specimens in sterile collection containers or sealed syringes must be received in the Laboratory within 4 hours of collection. Maintain specimens at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) prior to transport.

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: Fluid specimen in a sterile collection container or sealed syringe at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F).

Rejection Criteria

  • Specimens in non-sterile or leaking containers.

  • Specimens that have been delayed in transit will be tested; however, reporting will be at the discretion of the Microbiology Director.

Inpatient Specimen Preparation

Specimens must be transported STAT to the Laboratory after collection. Do not send syringe specimens through the pneumatic tube system.

In-Lab Processing

If a fluid culture is ordered on an inappropriate site/source, the order will be changed to match the appropriate test code.


Specimen Stability for Testing:

Sterile Collection Containers
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 4 hours
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Not Recommended
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

Sealed Syringes
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 4 hours
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Not Recommended
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 30 days


Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory
Taylor, Trenton and Wayne sent to Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory for testing.

Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory
Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, and Troy sent to Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory for testing.


Sunday – Saturday, 24 hours a day.
Preliminary results available within 24 hours.
Final negative results available in 5 days.

Reference Range

No organisms recovered.

Test Methodology

Gram stain, aerobic culture, anaerobic culture, organism identification, and susceptibility testing (if indicated). Gram Stain will NOT be performed on organ preservation fluid.


The recovery of microorganisms from an appropriate, properly collected specimen may be indicative of an infectious disease process.

Reflex Testing

Mold obtained from bacterial cultures will be reflexed to the Mycology Laboratory for identification.

Clinical Utility

This test is used to recover and identify microorganisms from a sterile site that may be involved in an infectious process.


  1. Vandamme, P.A.R., 2015. Specimen Collection, Transport, and Processing: Bacteriology. Jorgensen, J.H., Editor-in-Chief. Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 11th edition. ASM Press. Washington, D.C.
  2. Thomson, R.B., 2016, Body Fluid Cultures (excluding Blood, Cerebrospinal Fluid and Urine), Clinical Microbiology Procedures Handbook. 4th ed. ASM Press. Washington, D.C.

CPT Codes

87070 (Aerobic Culture), 87075 (Anaerobic Culture), 87205 (Gram Stain). Additional charges will be incurred for identification and susceptibility testing.


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