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Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Microbiology Essentials

​Specimen Retention Times for Clinical Microbiology

SpecimenSite/SourceTest RequestedRetention Time
Blood ​ ​ ​ ​

Blood Culture

  • Adult
  • Pediatric/Neonate

Fungal Culture

2 days after Final Report

PlasmaPCR14 days
Serum ​ ​Viral Serology30 days
PCR14 days
Cryptococcal Antigen30 days
Body FluidSterile other than Blood, Urine or CSFPCR14 days
BoneBoneC&S30 days
Bone MarrowBone MarrowPCR14 days
Cerebrospinal Fluid
  • AV reservoir
  • AV shunt
  • Lumbar drain fluid/puncture
  • Ventricular fluid

Cryptococcal Antigen
Fungal Culture

30 days
Feces ​Feces ​C&S3 days
PCR7 days
Foreign Body ​
  • Contact lens
C&S3 days
PCR7 days
Genital ​Swabs from all sitesPCR14 days
  • Labia/Vulva swab
  • Seminal fluid


3 days
Lower Respiratory ​ ​ ​Bronchial brushingC&S30 days
  • Bronchial washing
  • Lung aspirate
Pneumocystis jirovecii

30 days


  • Sputum
  • Tracheal aspirate/secretions

C&S (Routine)
C&S (Extended Work-Up)

3 days
PCR7 days
Nose/GroinNose/Groin swabMRSA Surveillance3 days
Other ​VariousPCR14 days
  • Perianal swab
  • Wound swab (previously ESBL positive site)
ESBL Surveillance3 days
Rectal ​Rectal swabPCR14 days
  • Feces
  • Perianal swab (for neutropenic patients)
  • Rectal swab
  • Stoma swab (for patient with colostomy or ileostomy)
  • Wound swab for VRE follow-up (previous VRE positive site)
VRE Surveillance3 days
Tissue ​ ​AutopsyPCR30 days
Biopsy ​PCR30 days

Fungal Culture

2 months
Upper Respiratory ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Eye swab ​PCR14 days
C&S30 days
Mouth swabPCR14 days


  • Gums
  • Mouth
  • Tongue

Fungal Culture

3 days
Nasopharyngeal swab/aspiratePCR14 days
Nose swab ​PCR14 days
C&S3 days
Throat swab

C&S (Routine)
C&S (Extended Work-Up)
Fungal Culture

3 days


Urine ​Urine ​C&S3 days
PCR7 days
WoundVarious C&S3 days

​If you choose to print this information, it is valid only on date of print.

Laboratory Controlled Document LSM-803 v1

Last Modified: Thursday, February 4, 2016 |
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