Sputum for AFB TestLast Updated on 17th January 2022
- AFB Smear: In this procedure, your material is "smeared" on a glass slide and examined under a microscope. It has the potential to provide results in 1–2 days. These results may indicate the likelihood of infection, but they do not provide a definitive diagnosis.
- AFB culture: Your sample is taken to a lab and placed in a specific atmosphere to enhance bacterial growth. An AFB culture can confirm a TB or other infection diagnosis. However, growing enough germs to detect an infection takes 6–8 weeks.
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What is Sputum for AFB Test used for?
You may require this test for a variety of reasons, including:
- If you are experiencing signs of a lung infection, your doctor may perform an AFB stain to investigate the cause.
- If a skin or blood test for TB is positive, or if your immune system is impaired owing to a condition such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), your doctor may perform this test to determine whether the illness is present.
- To detect Tuberculosis or another type of mycobacterial infection
- If you have been successfully healed of tuberculosis, your doctor may use this test. An AFB stain can help confirm that your recovery has been completed and that tuberculosis has been eradicated.
What is included in Sputum for AFB Test?
Your doctor will need to collect a sample of your sputum. During the examination:
- A health care provider will urge you to take a deep breath and cough into a particular cup.
- To help release mucus from your lungs, your provider may tap you on the chest.
- If you’re having difficulties coughing out enough phlegm, your doctor may suggest inhaling a salty mist to help you cough more thoroughly.
- If you are still unable to cough up enough sputum, your provider may do a bronchoscopy. During this procedure, you will first be given a sedative to help you relax, followed by a numbing medication to prevent you from feeling any discomfort.
- Then a small, illuminated tube will be inserted into your airways through your mouth or nose.
- A little brush or suction will be used by your provider to obtain a sample from your airway.
Procedure for Sputum for AFB Test
- Take a deep breath in and hold it for 5 seconds. Breathe out slowly. Take another deep inhale and cough vigorously until some phlegm appears in your mouth.
- Spit the sputum into the plastic cup provided
- Continue doing so until the sputum reaches the 5 ml (or more) line on the plastic cup. This is approximately 1 teaspoon of sputum.
- Screw the cup’s cap on tightly to prevent leakage.
- Make a note of the date you collected the sputum on the cup.
- Place the cup in the box or bag provided by the nurse.
- Give the cup to your nurse or medical professional.
How to prepare for Sputum for AFB Test?
Here are some things to keep in mind to prepare for your Sputum for AFB Test:
- Ensure that your collection container is sterile and clean. Do not open it until you are ready to use it.
- Make sure you do not eat or drink anything before the sample collection.
- Sample collection should ideally be done in the morning, as soon as you wake up and brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with water.
- If possible, the sample collection must be done with an open door or window to minimize the risk of infection for other people in the room when you cough to collect your sputum.
- Take a deep breath before giving your sample and hold for a few seconds for ease of collection.
Things to consider after Sputum for AFB Test is complete
You must have undergone a Sputum AFB test as a result of some symptoms or as a diagnostic procedure prescribed by your doctor. Here’s what you should do after you’ve completed the test:
- When a patient is “culture-negative,” no identifiable TB germs are found in his or her sputum, and the patient is probably not contagious and the bacteria may be present in other specimens or/boudy sites. The chance of transmission is mostly determined by characteristics associated with the TB patient or the surroundings to which contacts are exposed.
- If the patient is “culture-positive,” they must immediately meet with a pulmonologist to determine the meaning of the test results and the appropriate next steps.
If symptoms persist, the Sputum AFB must be done every 6-8 weeks to check for the organisms
*What types of infection can Sputum for AFB Test detect?
AFB tests are most commonly used in the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB). They may also be utilized to assist in the diagnosis of other forms of AFB infections. These are some examples:
Leprosy, a once-feared disease that damages the nerves, eyes, and skin, is now rare and easily cured. Skin frequently turns red and flaky, with loss of sensation.
An infection related to tuberculosis primarily affects patients with HIV/AIDS and others with compromised immune systems.
AFB tests can also be used to screen persons who have previously been diagnosed with tuberculosis. The tests can determine whether the treatment is effective and whether the infection can still spread to others.
Other mycobacteria that can cause infections that are diagnosed via AFB testing besides tuberculosis are:
- Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare complex (MAC)—may cause a lung infection in persons with compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS; this infection is not communicable, but it can be difficult to treat due to drug resistance.
- Mycobacterial species, such as Mycobacterium marinum, thrive in water and can cause skin diseases.
- Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium abscessus, Mycobacterium chelonae, and other quickly growing mycobacteria cause skin and wound infections after cosmetic surgery, prosthetic device installation, and nail salon visits, among other things.
- Some mycobacteria, such as Mycobacterium bovis causes bovine tuberculosis, can be passed from animals to humans.
How much does Sputum for AFB Test cost?*
The Sputum for AFB Test costs between Rs.100 to Rs.800 depending on your location, time of collection, and chosen pathology lab.
*Disclaimer: The value varies based on location, time, and your preferred lab partner.
How long does it take to get the results for Sputum for AFB Test?
You can expect to get the results for Sputum smear for AFB Test test within 24 to 48 hours after the sample is collected. However, in certain cases, depending on the location, medical advice, and preferred lab partner, it may take longer.
What do abnormal Sputum for AFB Test results indicate?
If your results were not normal, you may have a bacterial or fungal infection. More tests may be required by your provider to determine the precise sort of illness you have. Among the most prevalent types of dangerous bacteria detected in sputum cultures are those that cause:
A positive sputum culture result could indicate a flare-up of a chronic illness, such as cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult.
Based on the color of sputum, the doctor may make the following inferences:
- Clear: This normally indicates that there is no disease present, but significant quantities of clear sputum may indicate lung disease.
- Gray or white: This may also be normal, but excessive levels may indicate lung illness.
- Green or dark yellow. This is frequently due to a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia. Yellowish-green sputum is also prevalent in cystic fibrosis patients.
- Brown: This is frequently seen in smokers. It is also a symptom of black lung disease.
- Pink: This could be an indication of pulmonary edema, a condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the lungs. It is common in persons suffering from congestive heart failure.
- Red: This could be a precursor to lung cancer. It could also be a sign of pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal disorder in which a blood clot from the leg or another part of the body breaks free and travels to the lungs.
Reference Levels are as follows:
|More than 10 AFB / oil immersion field||Positive||3+|
|1-10 AFB / oil immersion field||Positive||2+|
|10-99 AFB / 100 oil immersion field||Positive||1+|
|1-9 AFB / 100 oil immersion field||Positive||Scanty|
|No AFB Seen||Negative||-N/A|
Disclaimer: Please consult with your doctor for interpreting the test reports
Is Sputum for AFB Test a definitive test?
Tuberculosis can be dormant or active. If you have latent tuberculosis, you will have TB bacteria in your body but will not feel unwell and will not be able to spread the disease to others. If you have active tuberculosis, you will experience symptoms and may infect others.
AFB tests are frequently ordered for persons who have current TB symptoms. The tests are designed to detect the presence of AFB bacteria in your sputum. Sputum is a viscous mucus produced by the lungs that is coughed up. It is not the same as spit or saliva.
While the AFB smear test is an important step in the diagnosis of Tuberculosis, it is not considered a definitive diagnostic technique. AFB culture requires weeks to provide a report but it is a much more definite diagnosis tool. Person can still harbor the organism and test negative in the Sputum test
How to read the Sputum for AFB Test report?
A negative AFB smear could indicate that there is no infection, that symptoms are caused by something other than mycobacteria, or that mycobacteria were not present in sufficient numbers to be detected under the microscope. Typically, three samples are collected to enhance the likelihood of detecting the organisms.
If AFB smears are negative but there is still a high suspicion of a mycobacterial infection, more samples may be taken and analysed on different days. A smear negative sample may nonetheless grow mycobacteria because the culture media permits small amounts of bacteria that cannot be seen under a microscope to multiply and be discovered.
AFB smears that are positive indicate a possible mycobacterial infection. A culture, however, is required to establish a diagnosis and identify the species of mycobacteria present.
A positive AFB smear or culture several weeks after starting medication treatment may indicate that the treatment regimen is ineffective and should be modified. It also signifies that the person is still contagious and can spread the mycobacteria to others by coughing or sneezing.
A negative culture indicates that the person examined does not have an active AFB infection or that mycobacteria were not present in that specific sample or were present in too few numbers to be detected. Cultures are kept for six to eight weeks before being deemed negative. The person tested may have a latent infection that resulted in a positive TB screening test but does not have active TB.
A negative culture many weeks following treatment shows that the tuberculosis infection is responding to treatment and that the patient is no longer infectious.
Why to book Sputum for AFB Test?
If your doctor suspects tuberculosis is causing your symptoms, you may be required to book this test. A prolonged cough that generates mucus and occasionally involves blood streaks is the most prevalent sign of tuberculosis. Other TB symptoms include:
- Chest ache
- Unexplained Loss of Weight
- Cough lasting more than a few weeks
If the infection spreads beyond the lungs, it can cause serious symptoms in other parts of the body, including the kidneys and bones.
Sputum for AFB Test at home – how does it work?
Sputum sample is collected on a single day or successive days depending on the test advised. Early morning samples are the best. Make sure not to touch the container. Take a couple of deep breaths before coughing up the sample. A gentle pat on the back will help in coughing up the mucus.
Are there any risks involved with Sputum for AFB Test?
There are no hazards to obtaining a sputum sample on your own. When you cough deeply, you may feel dizzy.
If you are unable to collect the sample yourself, a bronchoscopy may be required. Bronchoscopy has a few uncommon dangers, including:
- an adverse reaction to sedatives
- an infection
- bronchial spasms (sudden clenching of the bronchiole muscles)
- irregular heart rhythms
Another uncommon possibility is a pneumothorax. It is caused by a rip in the lung, which allows a little amount of air to escape between the lung and the chest wall. If it’s minor, it usually resolves itself under observation.
What can affect the results for Sputum for AFB Test?
Your lab test results can be influenced by a variety of factors. These contain the procedure used by each lab to perform the test. Even if your test results differ from the norm, you may not have a problem. Consult your healthcare physician to learn what the results mean for you.
A typical AFB smear result is negative, indicating that no germs were discovered in the sputum sample. A positive result indicates that bacteria were discovered and that you may be infected.
The smear is stained with a specific AFB stain, which can offer a preliminary test result in as little as 24 hours. Simultaneously, another sample is evaluated as a culture. This means that if bacteria are present in the sample, they will be grown in a lab. The culture yields a more definitive result, although it can take several weeks to determine if the diagnosis is positive or negative.
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Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs
Is the lab technician coming for Sputum for AFB Test sample collection vaccinated?
Yes. Our lab technicians are fully vaccinated. Further, they also ensure safety throughout by wearing a mask, gloves, and frequently sanitizing themselves during the sample collection.
Does MFine provide the interpretation for the results along with the reports?
Yes, MFine provides the interpretation for the result along with the reports. You can also avail a free medical consultation with a doctor to understand your reports accurately. The doctor will also advise and prescribe medicines, if required, based on the results.
How can I download my Sputum for AFB Test report?
- Login to MFine
- Go to your profile
- Click on Attachment and Reports
- Click on Lab Report
- Download the report
Are there any discount offers running on Sputum for AFB Test?
Usually you can avail of up to a 50% discount on Sputum for AFB Test through MFine. However, the discount and test price may vary based on lab partner and location.
Can I have tuberculosis (TB) and not become sick?
Yes. Many people around the world are infected with a dormant form of tuberculosis. They have been exposed to the bacteria, but their immune system has limited it to a small area in their lungs, where it is dormant. People with latent tuberculosis are not sick and are not contagious, yet the bacteria are still present and living. If those with latent infections are tested, the vast majority will have a positive TB skin test or IGRA test. The vast majority of patients with latent tuberculosis infection, around 90%, will never develop active tuberculosis disease.
Is AFB positivity a sign of tuberculosis?
If your AFB culture came back positive, you have active tuberculosis or another type of AFB infection. The culture can tell you what kind of infection you have. Your physician may order a “susceptibility test” on your sample after you have been diagnosed.
What bacteria causes tuberculosis?
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). TB germs often attack the lungs, but they can attack any region of the body, including the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with tuberculosis becomes ill.
What if the sputum test comes back negative?
When a patient is “culture-negative,” no identifiable TB germs are found in his or her sputum, and the patient is probably not contagious.This does not rule out Tb disease, bacteria may be seen in other specimens or/and body sites.
What can result in a positive AFB?
Some times, in Staining, some organisms give Positive AFB smear such as Nocardia, Actinomyces, Rhodococcus, Legionella micdadei, or Cryptosporidium species cysts (12, 13)
How reliable is the AFB test?
Disclaimer: The content is uniquely informative and is meant for educational use. Kindly use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified or registered healthcare provider.