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Wound (Microscopy, Culture & Sensitivity)

Alias: N/A

Discipline: Clinical Microbiology

Test information: The isolation of organisms known to cause skin and soft tissue infections. In addition to the investigation of pus and exudate specimens from abscesses and infections which are deep seated. Where applicable to determine antimicrobial susceptibility results.

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

Turnaround Time: 24 hours (Microscopy)
48 hours - 10 days (Culture)

Specimen Type(s)
  • Abscess Pus;
  • Deep-Seated Pus;
  • Haematoma;
  • Parotid Abscess Pus;
  • Pus;
  • Pus Exudate;
  • Pus Swab;
  • Quinsy Abscess Pus;
  • Skin Swab;
  • Swab;
  • Swab from superficial, non-surgical and surgical wounds;
  • Wound exudates;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Sterile CE-marked Charcoal swab in Transport medium;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Sterile CE-marked Charcoal swab in Transport medium;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
  • Microscopy Culture & Sensitivity;
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
1 mL
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport
  • Sample before antimicrobial therapy where possible.
  • Always state the site and nature of the wound on the request form in addition to relevant clinical details e.g. travel history, animal contact, water contact, recurrent boils/ infection, diabetes, immunocompromised.
  • If a collection of pus is present, aspirate this material with a sterile syringe and needle and transfer to a sterile universal container.
  • Sample a representative part of the lesion. Swabbing dry crusted areas is unlikely to be helpful.
  • If submitting a wound swab from a patient who has travelled abroad where they may have obtained an insect bite, please include this information in the clinical details
  • Corynebacterium diphtheria and Corynebacterium ulcerans can cause cutaneous diphtheria by colonising these bite sites.
  • Specimens should be transported to the laboratory without delay during normal working hours.
  • If transport is delayed store at 2-8 °C.
  • The swab must arrive in the laboratory within 48 hours of being taken.
  • Do not send specimens from the same wound on consecutive days, as this is a waste of valuable resources.
  • Routine processing of superficial swabs of ulcers is discouraged. Royal College of Nursing guidelines 'The management of patients with venous leg ulcers. Clinical Practice Guidelines 1998' indicate that processing leg ulcers should only occur if supported by relevant clinical details as evidence of clinical infection, i.e. inflammation, redness, cellulitis, increased pain, purulent exudates, foul odour, rapid deterioration of the ulcer, pyrexia or sepsis.
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: 02-06-2023