Pathology Handbook

Wound swab

Clinical Indications


Test Includes

Microscopy: dependent on site and clinical information received

Culture: all wounds swabs are cultured for aerobic organisms. Culture for anaerobic organisms and other investigations may be performed, dependent on sample site and clinical information received

Request Form 

Request on ICE


On request during routine working hours

Specific Criteria

If fluid pus is available, for example, from an abscess, a sample of this should be submitted in preference to a swab, see pus in test directory for more information
Please give detailed clinical information, including date of onset/contact with the suspected infection, and any current, or intended, antibiotic therapy

Patient Preparation


Turnaround Time

Microscopy: if performed, is normally available on day of receipt
Bacterial culture: dependent on site and clinical information received, may be up to 72 hours from date of receipt, if identification and antibiotic sensitivity testing of potential pathogens is required; 7 days for final report if culture for fastidious anaerobes is performed


Pus or bacterial swab in transport medium

Routine swab small


As above


Samples should be transported to laboratory immediately

Lab Handling

Samples should be processed as soon as possible

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled / inadequately labelled sample
Leaking sample 
Delay in sample reaching laboratory