Lab Test

Specimen Collection Manual: Tissue or Wound/Lesion, Fluid Collection - Bacterial, Fungal, AFB



  • Sterile non-bacteriostatic saline.
  • Sterile 10 cc syringes.
  • Sterile screw-capped collection containers.
  • ESwab Collection System.

Wound/Lesion (Skin, Sub-Cutaneous) Site Preparation Instructions

  • Decontaminate the site with surgical soap and 70% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Rinse the wound well with sterile, non-bacteriostatic saline and allow to dry.

Specimen Collection Criteria

  • Wearing a sterile glove, separate the wound margins with the thumb and forefinger of one hand or to make a small opening in a closed abscess with a sterile scalpel blade.
  • Extend the tip of the swab into the depths of the wound/lesion.
  • Place the swab into transport media and send to the Laboratory immediately. The specimen is stable at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) for up to 8 hours.
    • Alternately, fluid may be aspirated from a wound with a sterile syringe. That specimen can be placed into a sterile, screw-capped collection container for transport to the Laboratory.
  • Collect tissues and fluids aseptically taking care to prevent cross-contamination when specimens are taken from multiple sites. Use different tubes for specimens from different sites.
  • Autopsy specimens should be collected within 24 hours of the time of death.
Minimum Specimen Requirements*
Type of Culture Specimen Type Minimum Quantity
Anaerobic Sterile Fluid 1.0 mL
Anaerobic Sterile Tissue 5-10 mm3
Aerobic Sterile Fluid (Not CSF) 2-4 mL (AFB requires another 5 mL)
Aerobic Sterile Tissue 5-10 mm3

Rejection Criteria

  • Do not submit tissues for culture in formalin, or in containers that ever contained formalin.
  • Do not use expired media. Check expiration date on all media prior to use.
  • Swab specimens are unacceptable for AFB Cultures.


*Lynne S. Garcia, Editor-in-Chief. Specimen Collection, Transport, and Acceptability, Clinical Microbiology Procedures Handbook, 3rd Edition. ASM Press. Washington, D.C., 2010.


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