What is the sensitivity of a throat culture for the presence of group A streptococcal (GAS) infections?

Updated: Sep 07, 2018
  • Author: Zartash Zafar Khan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

If performed correctly, a throat swab cultured on a blood agar plate has a sensitivity rate of 90-95% in detecting the presence of S pyogenes in the pharynx. This sensitivity depends on properly obtaining the specimen. When possible, a specimen should be obtained from the surface of both tonsils and from the posterior pharyngeal wall. Other areas of the oropharynx are not acceptable; in the uncooperative child, study of a culture that was obtained from areas of the mouth that are clearly known to be inadequate for culturing is difficult to justify. The culture should be examined at 24 hours postinoculation and again at 48 hours postinoculation.


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