Ascitic fluid



Purulent ascitic fluid in a counting chamber

  • White cell counts are performed on all ascitic fluids
  • Polymorph counts of >250/mL are suggestive of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SPB)
  • Contact the laboratory before sending
  • Investigations for unusual pathogens (Mycobacteria, fungi) are only performed on request
  • See also:

Sample requirements

30mL sterile Universal


Please do not use any other type of container as they will not fit our centrifuges

30 mL sterile Universal

Required information

  • Underlying liver disease
  • Suspected unusual pathogens (Mycobacteria, fungi)
  • Recent, current and intended antibiotics


Transport to the laboratory immediately. Refrigerate samples if transport is delayed.

Turnaround time

White cell count and direct Gram stain on day of receipt

Culture results 2 – 4 days

Tests for unusual pathogens will take longer

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2014