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There are many airborne viruses that can get into nasal passages and lungs. Some of these viruses aren’t easy to identify by the symptoms a patient presents alone.
When the source of infection isn’t clear, a respiratory nasal test may be performed at a clinical laboratory. Often involving a nasal or throat swab, such tests are designed:
- To identify the source of a patient’s respiratory infection or disease
- To determine what treatments may be effective
The isolation of a virus that may be causing a respiratory ailment or infection is done with a cell culture. It involves an attempt to grow a virus. Results can be used to confirm the presence of a virus suspected to be the source of a patient’s respiratory issues or identify a particular viral strain. This type of testing is often done to identify influenza strains.
Samples may be obtained with a swab, a nasal aspirator, or having a patient blow their nose into waxed paper (the collection method often recommended for children). A nasal wash is a method that involves the use of a saline wash to prepare the sample for transport to the lab. It’s often used to check for staphylococcus aureus (staph), a common type of bacteria found in the nose and respiratory tract.
Respiratory Infection Panel
This is a type of a molecular diagnostic test used to identify various viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens. By testing bacterial and viral molecular panels, a broader range of potential respiratory infections or diseases can be identified. Samples are usually collected by nasal or throat swabs since samples collected from nose blowing may become contaminated. A single nasopharyngeal (NP) swab is often the preferred collection method for nasal samples. A respiratory panel may be ordered for patients with:
- Acute bronchiolitis or bronchitis
- Acute tonsillitis
- Nasal and sinus diseases
- Chronic coughing or wheezing
- Viral infections affecting the respiratory system
Pediatric Respiratory Panel
Testing of this nature is designed to test respiratory samples taken from children. Tests performed on the samples will identify respiratory infections or diseases more likely to appear in younger patients. Such tests can identify multiple respiratory pathogens simultaneously, resulting in a more thorough analysis.
A simple respiratory nasal test, a nasopharyngeal culture is created with a swab sample from a patient. An aspirator may also be used to collect the sample. It will identify any bacteria, fungi, or viruses present in the sample, usually within 48 hours.
Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing
Samples may be sent to a clinical lab to determine which antibiotics will likely be effective for a patient. The test is usually performed with small wafers containing antibiotics to see how the sample reacts to each antibiotic. A culture and sensitivity test is a related two-step test that involves identifying the organism and determining what drug will likely work on it.
Nearly two dozen different viruses may cause acute respiratory diseases that can affect upper and lower respiratory tracts. Our laboratory is prepared to run an assortment of tests since there are so many possible respiratory infection sources.