Acid-Fast Bacillus (AFB) Culture and AFB Stain
Ordering Recommendation
1-62 days
AFB Stain: 24 hours
New York DOH Approval Status
This test is New York DOH approved.
Submit With Order
ARUP Consult®
Disease Topics
Specimen Required
Patient Preparation
Recommended collection: Three sputum specimens at 8-24 hour intervals (24 hours when possible) and at least one first-morning specimen. An individual order must be submitted for each specimen.  
Sputum. OR body fluid, CSF, gastric aspirate, tissue, or urine.  
Specimen Preparation
Sputum: Transfer (for each collection) 5-10 mL to a sterile container. (Min: 1 mL)
Body Fluids or CSF:
Transfer 5 mL to a sterile container. (Min: 1 mL)
Gastric Aspirates:
Must be neutralized (pH7) with sodium carbonate if transport is delayed for more than four hours. Transfer 5-10 mL to a sterile container. (Min: 1 mL)
Transfer to a sterile container. (Min: Visible)
Transfer at least 40 mL to a sterile container. (Min: 10 mL)
Place each specimen in an individual, sealed bag.  
Storage/Transport Temperature
Unacceptable Conditions
Dry material or material collected and transported on a swab.
Acid Fast Stain
: Stool, blood, bone marrow, and grossly bloody specimens, CSF if less than 5 mL, or urine specimens if less than 40 mL.  
Specimen source required.  
Ambient: 24 hours; Refrigerated: 1 week; Frozen: 1 week  
Reference Interval
Effective May 20, 2013

Culture negative for acid fast bacilli.
Identification performed on positives.
Susceptibility performed on all initial isolates of M. tuberculosis complex.
Susceptibility performed on significant isolates of Mycobacterium other than M. tuberculosis complex isolates.
Interpretive Data

Positive cultures are reported as soon as detected. AFB stain, AFB identification of positives, and susceptibility tests are billed separately from culture. Identification of positive culture is billed by individual DNA probes and tests performed. Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Detection and Rifampin Resistance by PCR (ARUP test code 2010775) is available for respiratory, CSF or body fluid specimens.

The laboratory should be notified when the presence of Mycobacterium genavense is suspected as this organism will not grow on media routinely used for Mycobacterium isolation.

Susceptibility will be performed on organisms isolated from a sterile source and isolates of Mycobacterium chelonae, M. abscesses, M. fortuitum complex, M. immunogenum, M. mucogenicum. Susceptibility testing will be performed by request only on M. kansaii and M. marinum.Susceptibility testing of M. gordonae is inappropriate.

For AFB susceptibility information, refer to Antimicrobial Susceptibility - AFB Mycobacteria (ARUP test code 0060217). 

For AFB culture on blood refer to Culture, Acid-Fast Bacillus, Blood (ARUP test code 0060060).
CPT Code(s)
87116; CPT codes for identification and susceptibility vary based on method.
Component Test Code*Component Chart NameLOINC
0060152Culture, Acid Fast Bacilli543-9
* Component test codes cannot be used to order tests. The information provided here is not sufficient for interface builds; for a complete test mix, please click the sidebar link to access the Interface Map.
  • Acid Fast Stain
  • Acid-fast (Mycobacteria) Smear and Culture With Reflex to Identification and Susceptibility Testing
  • AFS
  • AFS, Auramine-rhodamine stain
  • AO stain
  • AR stain
  • Auramin-rhodamine stain
  • Culture (AFB Culture (Includes AFB Stain 0060151))
  • MTB Culture (AFB Culture (Includes AFB Stain 0060151))
  • Mycobacteria Culture (AFB Culture (Includes AFB Stain 0060151))
  • Mycobacterium
  • Mycobacterium species culture
  • TB Culture (AFB Culture (Includes AFB Stain 0060151))