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microbial diseases laboratory

Test Order Mycobacteria Isolation from Specimen

Pre-Approval Required


Supplemental Information or Form

Form LAB 402 (10/11) or LAB 402 (5/03)

Performed on Specimens From

California public health laboratories with prior approval.

Acceptable Sample/Specimen Type for Testing

Sputum, tissue or body fluid

Minimum Volume Required

5 mL recommended, one mL minimum

Storage & Preservation of Sample/Specimen Prior to Shipping




Sample/Specimen Labeling

Patient’s name, accession number

Shipping Instructions which Include Specimen Handling Requirements

Ship as diagnostic specimen.

Test Methodology

Digestion and decontamination, inoculation into MGIT broths and onto solid media, acid-fast microscopy using fluorescent auramine-rhodamine stain.

Turnaround Time

6 to 7 weeks for negative cultures, approx. 3 weeks if positive for M. tuberculosis (TB) complex and mycobacteria other than M. tuberculosis complex.

Interferences & Limitations

The overgrowth of bacterial and/or fungal contaminants in positive cultures can prevent the isolation and identification of the acid-fast bacilli seen in smears.

Additional Information

If M. tuberculosis complex is isolated from a new patient, drug susceptibility testing will be performed using culture or molecular methods.

MDL Points of Contact

Mycobacterial Diseases Section
(510) 412-3924 or (510) 412-3781
Emails: or

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