Is a sputum culture and Gram stain useful in the evaluation of suspected aspiration pneumonia?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Answer

Although sputum culture and Gram stain are generally not helpful in the initial diagnosis or treatment, sputum Gram stain and microscopy often reveal a multitude of bacteria (eg, cocci, bacilli, coccobacillary forms, and fusiforms) in patients with bacterial pneumonia caused by anaerobic bacteria. In nosocomial bacterial aspiration pneumonia, sputum culture may be helpful in detecting gram-negative bacteria.

Findings on sputum culture may not isolate organisms when the major pathogens are anaerobes.


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