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1. a mass of salivary matter ejected from the mouth
2. saliva ejected from the mouth mixed with mucus or pus exuded from the respiratory passages, as in bronchitis or bronchiectasis



pathological secretions from the respiratory tract that are discharged with a cough; they are the product of the overactivity of the mucous glands. Sputum often contains epithelial cells, bits of lung tissue, blood, and pus. The amount of sputum, as well as its appearance, is important in the diagnosis of disease.

Sputum may be mucous, purulent, serous, bloody, or mixed. Rusty sputum (sputum mixed with and colored by blood) is a sign of lobar pneumonia. Abundant purulent sputum is characteristic of a ruptured abscess in the lungs. Gray, dirty, malodorous sputum appears when there is putrefactive decomposition of lung tissue.

Sputum may be examined in a laboratory with the aid of a microscope and also by bacteriological and cytological analyses. Laboratory examination makes it possible to detect pathogenic microorganisms (including the causative agent of tuberculosis), cells of malignant tumors, and certain other elements that are characteristic of certain diseases, and to determine the sensitivity of bacterial flora to antibiotics.


Material discharged from the surface of the respiratory passages, mouth, or throat; may contain saliva, mucus, pus, microorganisms, blood, or inhaled particulate matter in any combination.
References in periodicals archive ?
20) In view of the above issues, the current study was designed to evaluate the performance of microscopic observation drug susceptibility (MODS) assay and 2,3,5-triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) assay with indirect proportion method (using Lowenstein-Jensen (LJ) media) directly on Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) smear positive sputum specimens.
no induced sputum facility available) from children [less than or equal to] 14 years of age at a district-level academic hospital; (ii) to determine whether sputum specimens not meeting the Xpert minimum required testing volume could be manipulated before testing; and (iii) to determine the feasibility of performing Xpert MTB/RIF on raw paediatric sputum specimens by a dedicated staff member, at the point of care (POC).
Evaluation of the FASTPlaqueTB assay for direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum specimens.
Evaluation of AMPLICOR PCR for direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from sputum specimens.
Nurse X had a normal chest radiograph in December 1990, but in July 1991, she had an infiltrate on chest radiograph as well as a sputum specimen that grew 4+ Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
As a standard laboratory protocol, to rule out hyperinfection syndrome an additional sputum specimen of the patients infected with Strongyloidiasis was also submitted to Parasitology division.
Patients with active tuberculosis often have different strains in the same sputum specimen.
An induced sputum specimen, produced by nebulisation with hypertonic saline, is valuable in patients unable to produce sputum.
Before commencing treatment an additional sputum specimen was collected from re-treatment patients who had a recent positive smear result (usually within the previous week) and had returned to the clinic to commence the standard re-treatment regimen.
dagger] [dagger]) The patient died from unsuspected TB meningitis before a sputum specimen could be collected for AFB testing.
Nine of these 16 cases were unable to produce a sputum specimen and therefore cultures were not done.
However, Legionella pneumophila serogroup 5 was isolated from the sputum specimen.