Genital Specimens for Culture (Bacteriology)
Collection container (including preservatives):
CE marked leak proof container
Specimen type: High vaginal swab (HVS), vaginal
discharge, vulval swab, labial swab, cervical swab, endocervical
swab, penile swab, urethral swab, genital ulcer swab, semen,
screening swabs for N. gonorrhoeae, aspirates from
bartholin's gland, fallopian tube, tubo-ovarian abscess, pouch of
Douglas fluid, intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUCD), products
High Vaginal swabs (HVS) are not suitable for the isolation of
N. gonorrhoeae, Endocervical swabs should be
Collection: Use aseptic technique. Collect
specimens in appropriate CE marked leak proof containers and
transport in sealed plastic bags. Collect swabs into appropriate
transport medium and transport in sealed plastic bags.
- Genital tract swabs - Cervical and high vaginal swabs should be
taken with the aid of a speculum. It is important to avoid vulval
contamination of the swab. For Trichomonas, the posterior fornix,
including any obvious candidal plaques should be swabbed. If pelvic
infection, including gonorrhoea, is suspected, the cervical os
should be swabbed. For the specific diagnosis of BV, it is
recommended that an air-dried smear of vaginal discharge is sent in
addition to the swab. Separate samples should be collected into
appropriate transport media for detection of viruses or C.
- High vaginal swabs - After the introduction of the speculum,
the swab should be rolled firmly over the surface of the vaginal
vault. The swab should then be placed in Amies transport medium
- Cervical swabs - After introduction of the speculum to the
vagina, the swab should be rotated inside the endocervix. The swab
should then be placed in Amies transport medium with charcoal.
- Urethral swabs - Contamination with micro-organisms from the
vulva or the foreskin should be avoided. Thin swabs are available
for collection of specimens. The patient should not have passed
urine for at least one hour. For males, if a discharge is not
apparent, attempts should be made to "milk" exudate from the penis.
The swab is gently passed through the urethral meatus and rotated.
Place the swab in Amies transport medium with charcoal.
- Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs) - The entire device
should be sent.
- Rectal swabs - Rectal swabs are taken via a proctoscope.
- Throat swabs - Throat swabs should be taken from the tonsillar
area and/or posterior pharynx avoiding the tongue and uvula.
- Fluids and pus - These are taken from the fallopian tubes,
tubo-ovarian and Bartholin's abscesses, etc… during surgery.
Specimen transport: Specimens should be
transported and processed as soon as possible.
Minimum volume of sample: Fluids and pus -
preferably a minimum volume of 1mL.
Special precautions: Endocervical swabs
for gonorrhoea investigation should not be refrigerated
Measurement units: Not applicable
Biological reference units: Not applicable
Turn round time for provisional result (working
days): 30 -60 mins for microscopy
1 day for culture
Turn round time to final result (working days):
Clinical decision points: Not applicable
Factors known to significantly affect the
results: HVS swabs for gonorrhoea investigation should not
be refrigerated as this significantly reduces the recovery