Post-mortem (PM) samples




  • Post-mortem samples are prone to contamination with post-mortem flora which normally includes faecal organisms such as coliforms, enterococci and anaerobes
  • Culture results need to be interpreted with caution
  • Tissue samples are preferred to swabs
  • If pus is present please send an aspirate
  • If unusual pathogens are suspected (e.g. Mycobacteria, fungi), please specify on the request form
  • Microscopy is not routinely performed on post-mortem samples

Sample requirements

Place excised material in a dry sterile leak proof container 

e.g. 60 mL widemouth container



Clearly label each sample with the site

60 mL wide-mouthed sterile container

Standard charcoal transport swab

Clearly label each sample with the site

 Charcoal transport swab

Required information

  • Suspected TB
  • Any gross PM finding suggestive of infection


Transport to the laboratory promptly

Turnaround time

Preliminary culture results: 2 – 4 days

Final culture results: 5 – 7 days

Tests for unusual pathogens will take longer

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2014