Kids with CF can get frequent respiratory infections. A sputum CF respiratory screen, or culture, helps doctors detect and identify the bacteria so they can prescribe the most effective antibiotics to target a specific infection.
Cultures collect mucus from the lungs. This mucus is put in a dish with a culture medium that helps bacteria grow. Later, the dish is checked for bacteria that causes lung infections. Tests can then be done to see which antibiotics will work to treat that bacteria and which ones the bacteria would be able to resist.
When a person is older, they can usually cough up some sputum. Infants and younger children cannot “expectorate,” or cough up mucus. If a person cannot cough up some sputum or phlegm, an oropharyngeal (OP) swab or culture is done. Some centers call this a throat culture, or a “gagged” sputum culture and some may call it a “deep throat culture.” To get a good sample, the throat culture swab should make the person gag so some sputum comes up in the throat from the lungs.
Cultures will be taken during each clinic visit. Results are typically received within 5 days of the testing.