Lab Test

Culture, Wound - Superficial

Wound Culture, Superficial

Test Codes





  • Wound, Superficial is defined as a wound in the skin or infected space that may drain through the skin and that does not extend deeper than the dermis.
  • Only an aerobic culture is included as part of this test.
  • For specimens from wounds that penetrate deeper than the dermis, please refer to Culture, Wound - Deep.
  • For tissue specimens, please refer to Culture, Tissue.
  • For surgical specimens, please refer to Culture, Surgical.
  • For fluid specimens obtained from a sterile site, please refer to Culture, Fluid.

Specimen Collection Criteria

Tissue or fluid is always superior to a swab specimen.

Collect: One of the following specimens:

  1. (Preferred) Fluid specimen in a sterile collection container or sterile sealed syringe (without the needle). Do NOT submit the syringe with the needle attached.

  2. (Alternate) Specimen collected with an ESwab.

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Place specimens in a transport system immediately and maintain at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) prior to transport. Do not refrigerate the specimen.

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: Specimen in a sterile collection container or an ESwab, at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F).

Rejection Criteria

  • Specimens submitted in a container with formalin or that has ever contained formalin.
  • Specimens in non-sterile or leaking containers. 
  • Desiccated (dry) samples.

Inpatient Specimen Preparation

Transport specimen to the Laboratory immediately after collection.


Specimen Stability for Testing:

Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 4 hours (Not in transport system)
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 24 hours (In transport system)
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Unacceptable for genital sources
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 4 days
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) – Genital sources: 7 days


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

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


Sunday – Saturday, 24 hours a day.
Preliminary results available within 24 hours. 

Reference Range

Skin microbiota may be isolated.

Test Methodology

Gram stain, aerobic culture, identification and susceptibility testing (if indicated).


The recovery of aerobic bacteria 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 (sterile sites only).

Clinical Utility

This test is used to recover and identify aerobic bacteria that may be involved in human infections.


  1. Baron, E.J. and Thomson, Jr., R.B. 2011. Specimen Collection, Transport, and Processing: Bacteriology, pg. 228-272. James Versalovic, Editor-in-Chief. Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 10th edition. ASM Press. Washington, D.C., p. 228-272.
  2. Linscott, A.J., 2010. Specimen Collection, Transport, and Acceptability. Clinical Microbiology Procedure Handbook, 3rd Edition. Garcia, L.S. (ed), ASM Press. Washington, D.C., p. 51-80.
  3. York, M.K., Sharp, S.E., Bowler, P.C., and Church, D.L., 2010. Wound/Abscess and Soft Tissue Cultures. Clinical Microbiology Procedure Handbook, 3rd Edition. Garcia, L.S. (ed), ASM Press. Washington, D.C., p. 440-457.

CPT Codes

87070. Additional charges will be incurred for identification and susceptibility testing.
LOINC:  17915-0


Last Updated


Microtainer® and Vacutainer® are registered trademarks of Becton, Dickinson and Company.
UroVysion® is a registered trademark of Abbott Laboratories. ThinPrep® is a registered trademark of Hologic, Incorporated.