What is the role of swab culture in the workup of mycobacterium chelonae infection?

Updated: Dec 20, 2018
  • Author: Alfred Scott Lea, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Swab specimens are less optimal than cultures obtained via aspiration. Notifying microbiology laboratory personnel to communicate clinical suspicion and concerns results in the proper procedures regarding adequate specimen processing to increase the yield and significance of cultures.

Interpret microbiological results with caution because a single positive culture, especially of a superficial lesion or sputum, may represent a contaminant or colonization. In one study from Spain, 13 of 24 isolates of M chelonae were deemed of questionable clinical significance. [17]

Species identification of the NTM as well as susceptibility studies performed by a competent reference laboratory are important steps when evaluating all forms of NTM, since their clinical presentation and manifestations, as well as their response to therapy, can be quite different.


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