AskDefine | Define sputum

Dictionary Definition

sputum n : expectorated matter; saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages; in ancient and medieval physiology it was believed to cause sluggishness [syn: phlegm] [also: sputa (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



sputum (plural sputa)
  1. Matter coughed up and expectorated from the mouth, composed of saliva and discharges from the respiratory passages such as mucus, phlegm or pus.

Extensive Definition

Sputum is matter that is expectorated from the respiratory tract, such as mucus or phlegm, mixed with saliva, which can then be spat from the mouth. It is usually associated with air passages in diseased lungs, bronchi, or upper respiratory tract.
A sputum sample is the name given to the mucus that is coughed up from the lower airways. It is usually used for microbiological investigations of respiratory infections.
The best sputum samples contain very little saliva, as this contaminates the sample with oral bacteria.
When a sputum specimen is plated out, it is best to get the portion of the sample that most looks like pus onto the swab. If there is any blood in the sputum, this should also be on the swab.
Microbiological sputum samples are usually used to look for infections by Moraxella catarrhalis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. Other pathogens can also be found.
Purulent Sputum is that containing, or consisting of, pus.
Sputum can be: 1.Bloody (Haemoptysis) 2.Rusty coloured- usually caused by pneumococcal bacteria (in pneumonia) 3.Purulent-containing pus
sputum in German: Sputum
sputum in Dutch: Sputum
sputum in Polish: Plwocina
sputum in Chinese: 痰
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