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Abscesses and Deep-Seated Wound Infections (Bacteriology)

Abscesses are accumulations of pus in the tissues and any organism isolated from them may be of significance. They occur in many parts of the body as superficial infections or as deep-seated infections associated with any internal organ.

General information

Collection container (including preservatives): Use aseptic technique. Collect specimens in appropriate CE marked leak proof containers and transport specimens in sealed plastic bags.

Avoid accidental injury when pus is aspirated. Collect swabs into Amies transport medium with charcoal and transport in sealed plastic bags.

Collection: Collect specimens before antimicrobial therapy where possible. Samples of pus are preferred to swabs. However, pus swabs are often received (when using swabs, the deepest part of the wound should be sampled, avoiding the superficial microflora).

Unless otherwise stated, swabs for bacterial and fungal culture should then be placed in Amies transport medium with charcoal.

Collect specimens other than swabs into appropriate CE marked leak proof containers and place in sealed plastic bags.

Specimen type: Abscess pus, abscess swab, deep-seated pus swab, post-operative wound swab, wound exudates.

Specimen transport: Specimens should be transported and processed as soon as possible.

The volume of specimen influences the transport time that is acceptable. Large volumes of purulent material maintain the viability of anaerobes for longer.

Minimum volume of sample: Minimum volume of 1mL of pus. Swabs should be well soaked in pus.

Special precautions: If processing is delayed, refrigeration is preferable to storage at ambient temperature. Delays of over 48hr are undesirable.

Laboratory information

Measurement units: Not applicable

Biological reference units: Not applicable

Turn round time for provisional result (calendar days): 24 hrs

Turn round time to final result (calendar days): 48-72 hrs

Clinical information

Clinical decision points: Not applicable

Factors known to significantly affect the results: The recovery of anaerobes is compromised if the transport time exceeds 3 hr