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Test Code LAB2553 Joint Fluid Culture


Clinical System Name

Joint Fluid Culture


Joint Aspirate Culture

Synovial Fluid Culture


Sample Requirements

Specimen: Joint or Synovial Fluid

Container: Sterile Container

Preferred Vol: 1.0 mL

Minimum Vol: 0.2 mL

Processing Instructions


CPA: Send sample to Microbiology for processing. If only one tube, syringe or other container is received, affix shared sample label and send entire sample plus requisition to Microbiology .


Off-site collection:  Off-site Children's Lab locations should set up culture per Lucidoc  instructions. After set up, refrigerate remaining sample for courier pickup.


Other off-site locations, keep sample at room temperature until delivered and set up.


Conditions Time
Room temp 1 hour
Refrigerated N
Frozen N



Procedure Performed Turn Around Time (TAT)
Gram Stain 24/7

1 hour

Culture 24/7 2 - 9 days


Gram Stains on sterile fluids are performed STAT with a TAT of 1 hour. 

Cultures are read at appropriate intervals to detect early bacterial growth. STAT culture requests are not applicable.


Final incubation time is dependent on the Gram stain results.  See Reporting Information section for additional information.

Performing Laboratory

Seattle Children's Laboratory



Microbiology Laboratory

CPT Codes



87205 (Gram stain)

This test is not limited to the CPT codes listed.  Others may be added as more testing is necessary and depending on the pathogens isolated (such as MIC's and ID's)


Includes Bacterial Culture and Gram Stain. Specimen cultured for Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria.

Reporting Information

Any growth on a sterile fluid is considered positive and reported.


Preliminary Report:  18 - 24 hours

Negative Final Report: 2 - 9 days


No Growth cultures are typically held for 7 days.


If Organisms or Moderate to Abundant Polys are seen on the Gram stain but the culture is No Growth, the broth culture will be subcultured after 7 days and incubated for an additional 2 days.

Notifiable Result

See Link below for Notifiable Conditions for WA state labs:


See Link below for PDF of phone numbers for Local Health jurisdictions (by County) in WA State:


Note: Neisseria gonorrheae and N. meningitidis are Notifiable Conditions.