Evidence & Practice
Sputum collection and analysis: what the nurse needs to know
Rebecca Myatt Nurse case manager (thoracic surgery), Guy's Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
Sputum is the term used to describe mucus that has been expectorated. It consists of secretions and other matter that has been expectorated from the lungs and large airways. This article informs nurses about how and why sputum collection and analysis is undertaken.
Sputum is always considered abnormal, because healthy people swallow bronchial secretions.
Sputum analysis is important, because it enables diagnosis of conditions such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung abscess and lung cancer.
The nurse should record the colour, amount and consistency of the sputum collected. They should send the specimen to the laboratory for analysis without delay to ensure accurate results.
Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10228Correspondence
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software
Received: 19 July 2015
Accepted: 11 May 2016
Published online: 23 February 2017