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Throat Swabs (Culture & Sensitivity)

Alias: N/A

Discipline: Clinical Microbiology

Test information: The detection and recovery of bacteria and fungi from throat related specimens known to cause upper respiratory tract infections. . Where applicable to determine antimicrobial susceptibility results.

Availability: Available locally Monday - Sunday during routine hours: 08:45 - 17:15.

Turnaround Time: 24 - 48 hours (Culture & Sensitivity)

Specimen Type(s)
  • Throat swab;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Sterile CE-marked Charcoal swab in Transport medium;
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Sterile CE-marked Charcoal swab in Transport medium;
  • Culture & Sensitivity;
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport

Sample before antimicrobial therapy where possible.

Throats swab should be taken from the tonsillar area and/or posterior pharynx avoiding the tongue and uvula.

Throat culture should not be taken if the epiglottis is inflamed as sampling may cause serious respiratory obstruction.

Specimens should be transported to the laboratory without delay during normal working hours.

If transport is delayed store at 2-8 °C.

Investigation for Corynebacterium diphtheria will only take place if clinical details include one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Membrane or membranous pharyngitis/tonsillitis.
  • Travel overseas (especially former USSR, Africa, South America or South East Asia) within the last 10 days.
  • Recent contact with someone who has travelled overseas recently.
  • Recent consumption of raw milk products (Corynebacterium ulcerans)
  • Recent contact with farm or domestic animals (Corynebacterium ulcerans)
  • The patient works in a clinical microbiology laboratory or similar where Corynebacterium species may be handled.

If diphtheria is suspected, give anti-toxin immediately - never wait for the laboratory result before instigating therapy. Inform a medical microbiologist and report to the Health Protection Unit South West, Tel. No. (0300 303 8162) without delay.

Investigation for Arcanobacterium haemolyticus will take place if clinical details state the patient (under the age of 25 years) has had recurrent infections and/or failed treatment.

Maximum add on time
Units and Reference Ranges / Interpretation

Susceptibility Testing: Each susceptibility category is defined by breakpoints specific for each species and agent. The breakpoints are minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) and describe the amount of agent required to inhibit the growth of the organism.

The definitions of (S),(I), and (R) emphasize the close relationship between the susceptibility of the organism and the exposure of the organism at the site of infection.

Susceptible (S): High likelihood of therapeutic success with standard dosing.
Susceptible Increased Exposure (I): High likelihood of therapeutic success with increased dosing.
Resistant (R): High likelihood of therapeutic failure.

UKAS number
UKAS accredited test?

If you have any queries about a test or results interpretation please contact us.

Last updated: 07-06-2023