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Beaumont Laboratory

Specimen Collection Manual: Rectal Swab



  • ESwab Collection System.
  • UTM or UVT transport medium.

Specimen Collection Criteria

  • Position the patient so that the anus is readily accessible.
  • Insert a flocked swab 3-5 cm into the rectum.
  • Rotate the swab and carefully withdraw it from the rectum. The swab should have fecal material on it.

Rejection Criteria

  • Do not use expired media. Check expiration date on all media prior to use.


  • For viral cultures or molecular detection of viruses, place the swab into a vial of viral transport medium (UTM, UVT) and cut/break the shaft of the swab so that it fits into the tube. Send the specimen to the Laboratory on wet ice. Do not freeze. Specimens may be stored for up to 24 hours refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F). If longer delays are anticipated, specimens should be frozen at -70°C.
  • For Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC) cultures, swab the anal crypts just inside the anal ring. Avoid fecal contamination as much as possible. Place the swab into the ESwab Collection System immediately. Transport at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F). Do not refrigerate.
  • For bacterial cultures, the specimen of choice for detecting bacterial diarrhea is diarrheal stool, not material on a swab. Rectal swabs are acceptable for culture of diarrheal pathogens only from infants or patients who are acutely ill from diarrhea. Gently swab beyond the anal sphincter, rotate the swab, and remove. Place into Cary-Blair transport medium or deliver immediately to the Microbiology Laboratory. Transport at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) or refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F). Rectal swabs are not acceptable for detection of Clostridium difficile toxins, or rotavirus.
    Cary-Blair Transport Medium

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Microtainer® and Vacutainer® are registered trademarks of Becton, Dickinson and Company.
UroVysion® is a registered trademark of Abbott Laboratories. ThinPrep® is a registered trademark of Hologic, Incorporated.

This directory currently reflects information only for specimens collected and/or processed at the Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, and Troy campuses.