Fungal microscopy and culture - tissue biopsies and sterile fluids

Last updated: Tuesday, 23, March, 2004

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Fresh tissue obtained at surgical biopsy is preferable to material obtained by fine needle aspiration.

Sufficient specimen should be collected to allow histologic examination as well as microbiological studies.

For fluids it is important that an adequate volume is collected eg, 5-30 mL cerebrospinal fluid.


Microscopy (wet preparation); culture on specialised fungal media with incubation for up to 4 weeks.

The usefulness of susceptibility testing depends of the identification of the organism isolated.


Diagnosis of invasive fungal infections, especially in immunocompromised patients.


The significance of isolation of fungi from clinical specimens depends on the specific site and identification of the organism.

Specimens from the respiratory tract and paranasal sinuses are particularly problematic since colonisation or contamination cannot be differentiated from infection.


Sutton DA. In: Murray PR et al eds. Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 8th ed. ASM Press 2003.