Ear swab

Last updated: Wednesday, 24, March, 2004

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Item Process
Specimen

Swab of pus or fluid from external meatus, placed in transport medium eg, Stuart’s medium.

Method

Gram stain of pus.

Culture for bacteria and fungi.

Application

Only appropriate in chronic, persistent or severe acute otitis externa;
otitis media with ruptured ear drum; or
infection following aural surgery.

Interpretation

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aspergillus sp and Candida albicans may be pathogens in chronic otitis externa.

Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are the most important pathogens in middle ear infection.

Staphylococcus aureus is part of the normal flora, but is an important cause of infection following aural surgery.

Reference

Carroll K and Reimer L. Clin Infect Dis 1996: 23; 442-448.