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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 ?
Two of these 4 patients defaulted TB treatment and had culture-positive sputum specimens when they returned after treatment interruption.
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.
The FASTPlaque-Response test was evaluated in AFB-positive sputum specimens only, as currently recommended by the manufacturer.
Calculating the consensus sequence, we obtained the genome of the influenza A (H7N9) virus directly from the sputum specimen of this patient.
Standard 2 All patients (adults, adolescents and children who are capable of producing sputum) suspected of having pulmonary TB should have at least two, and preferably three, sputum specimens obtained for microscopic examination.
The new guidelines suggest only two sputum specimens for smear microscopy from someone who is HIV-infected or when there is strong clinical evidence of HIV infection.
For superficial body site cultures, we recommend using clean, disposable, plastic screw-capped cups instead of more expensive sterile containers; clean containers also do not compromise urine, stool, and sputum specimens.
Complete identification of nonfermenters is often unnecessary because they occur with multiple organisms in wound and sputum specimens and are therefore of questionable significance.
During the first 3 weeks after the earthquake, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis were more predominant than Streptococcus pneumoniae; most strains were isolated from purulent sputum specimens.
At that point, he also had chronic cough; a computed tomographic (CT) scan of the chest showed small nodules and mild interstitial fibrosis, and sputum specimens were negative for fungi or mycobacteria by microscopy.