Laboratory Services in Tuberculosis Control
Part III: Culture WHO/TB/98.258
Document produced by the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme
Technical Units
Order Number    19303167   
Price    CHF    22.00 / US$    26.40 Developing countries:    CHF    15.40
English     1999        95   pages
Table of contents
Related Publications
Translation(s) available
A practical guide to the many special techniques needed for the successful culture of specimens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Noting that bacteriological culture of tuberculosis is notoriously slow, difficult, and expensive, the guide concentrates on the exact procedures and precautions needed to prevent errors and ensure reliable results. Particular attention is given to techniques suitable for the financial and human resources of low- and middle-income countries.
The guide, which includes numerous illustrations and colour plates, has eleven chapters. The first introduces the role of bacteriological culture within the context of laboratory services for tuberculosis control, noting the unique contribution of culture to definitive diagnosis. Priorities for the effective use of culture are also identified. Chapter two sets out recommendations for the layout of a culture laboratory and equipment, and the logical flow of specimens and activities. Particular attention is given to ventilation and the correct use of biological safety cabinets as essential measures to protect staff from laboratory-acquired infections.
Subsequent chapters provide brief didactic advice on specimen collection, storage, transport and handling. Techniques for homogenization and decontamination are covered in chapter six, which provides highly detailed step-by-step instructions for various options suitable for countries with different resource levels. Chapter seven, on culture media, provides equally detailed instructions for preparing culture medium, emphasizing the advantages and disadvantages of different media, and the exact procedures that must be followed to achieve a successful culture. Chapter eight gives a brief description of inoculation and incubation procedures.
The most extensive chapter provides an illustrated guide to procedures for culture examination, identification, and interpretation of results. The remaining chapters offer guidelines for the uniform recording and reporting of laboratory results, and discuss the components of a system for quality assurance.