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Sputum fungal smear

A sputum fungal smear is a laboratory test that looks for fungus in a sputum sample. Sputum is the material that comes up from air passages when you cough deeply.

Alternative Names

KOH test; Fungal smear - sputum; Fungal wet prep; Wet prep - fungal

How the Test is Performed

A sputum sample is needed. You will be asked to cough deeply and spit any material that comes up from your lungs into a special container.

The sample is sent to a lab and examined under a microscope.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no special preparation.

How the Test will Feel

There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order this test if you have symptoms or signs of a lung infection, especially if you have a weakened immune system due to certain medicines or diseases such as cancer or HIV/AIDs.

Normal Results

A normal (negative) result means no fungus was seen in the test sample.

Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be a sign of a fungal infection. Such infections include:

Risks

There are no risks associated with a sputum fungal smear.

References

Croft AC, Woods GL. Specimen collection and handling for diagnosis of infectious diseases. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 63.

Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 97.

Updated: 11/20/2013

Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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