Reference Index - Medical Tests

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Viral lesion culture
Viral lesion culture


Gram stain of skin lesion

Definition:

A gram stain of a skin lesion is a laboratory test that uses special stains to detect and identify bacteria in a sample from a skin sore. The gram stain method is one of the most commonly used techniques for the rapid diagnosis of bacterial infections.



Alternative Names:

Skin lesion gram stain



How the test is performed:

Your health care provider will remove a sample of tissue from the skin sore. For information on how this is done, see the article on skin lesion biopsy .

The sample is sent to a laboratory, where it is applied in a very thin layer to a glass slide. A series of different colored stains is applied to the sample. A laboratory team member examines the stained slide under a microscope, checking for bacteria. The color, size, and shape of the cells help identify the infecting organism.



How to prepare for the test:

No preparation is needed for the laboratory test.



How the test will feel:

The laboratory test is painless. For information on what it feels like to have the skin sample removed, see skin lesion biopsy .



Why the test is performed:

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of an infected skin sore. The test is done to determine which bacteria is causing the infection.



Normal Values:

The test is normal if no bacteria are identified.



What abnormal results mean:

An abnormal result means bacteria have been found in the skin lesion. Further tests are needed to confirm the results.



What the risks are:

There are no risks related to the laboratory test. For information on risks related to the removal of a skin sample, see skin lesion biopsy .



Special considerations:

A skin or mucosal culture may be done along with this test. Other studies are often done on a skin sample to determine if cancer is present.

Viral skin lesions, like herpes simplex, are examined by other tests or a viral culture.




Review Date: 11/26/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Daniel Levy, MD, Infectious Disease, Maryland Family Care, Lutherville, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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