Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) (Staining, Smear & culture sensitivity) – Sputum Lab Test

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What is an Acid Fast Bacilli Test AFB Test?

An acid-fast bacilli test now known as an acid-fast smear and culture test is recommended by the doctor to usually test if the patient is suffering from some bacterial infection, especially. Though the rate of people suffering from tuberculosis has been eliminated over the years, some cases are still reported in India occasionally.

In this test, a staining dye is added to a bacterial cultural and then it is washed in an acid solution. After this, it is found that while some of the bacterial cells retain their colour, some other cells lose it either partially or completely. The test thus demarcated bacteria according to their ability to remain dyed, also known as their "acid fastness".

How is the Acid Fast Bacilli Test AFB Test conducted?

For this test, a sample is collected from one of the following, according to the needs of the patients and the recommendation of the doctor:

• Blood

• Urine

• Stool

• Bone Marrow

• Sputum or Phlegm

• Skin Tissue

Why do you need to take the AFB test?

The AFB test is recommended for a whole lot of reasons. While to test for some bacterial infection and identify if the patient is suffering from tuberculosis are the most basic reasons, there are some other reasons as well. The type of result depends on the bacteria being tested.

Usually, when the test is done from phlegm or sputum, it is to test tuberculosis in a patient. A positive test result will indicate that the patient has TB. In such cases, the bacterium will completely be acid-fast.

If the category of acid-fast bacteria is different, only a few parts of the cell and not the entire cell will retain the dye. Nocardia is one such example. Though it is very rare, it is extremely dangerous at the same time.

What is the AFB test cost?

The AFB test cost usually ranges from Rs. 150 to Rs. 1000, depending on the availability, city and quality.

What are the symptoms of AFB?

The doctor usually recommends the Acid Fast Bacilli Test when he observes certain symptoms in the patients. These symptoms usually point at Mycobacterial lung infection or pulmonary tuberculosis. These symptoms of AFB are as follows:

• Loss of appetite

• Fevers

• Chills

• A lingering and chronic cough

• Chest pain

• Sudden and unexplained weight loss

• Excessive Weakness

• Unnecessary Fatigue

How is the sample collected?

The sample in acid-fast bacilli smear test is usually collected as per the requirements and medium of the test from blood, sputum, bone marrow, skin tissue, urine or stool as the requirement might be. Bacilli in the urine test and phlegm test are the, most common ones.

What do the results indicate?

If the result is normal, it indicates that there is no infection in the body and the system is performing great without any problem. However, if the results are abnormal, it means that there is some bacterial infection in the body that demands treatment immediately.

How can Acid Fast Bacilli be treated?

Today, with the advancement in medical technology, diseases as deadly as tuberculosis are also treatable. Different antibiotics and drugs are used to treat this disease along with other bacterial infections

How can we help?

We as a team believe in healing at home. We would visit your home to collect all kinds of samples required for this test, get the test done and arrange for highly qualified doctors right at your doorstep. We can ensure that you receive the best quality Healthcare Services right at home.


The Acid-Fast Bacilli Test or AFB Test thus tests the existence of bacterial infection in the body by collecting samples from blood, urine, stool, phlegm, etc. and is used to identify various bacteria-caused diseases.

Understanding results of Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) (Staining, Smear & culture sensitivity) – Sputum

Reference RangeInterpretation
26.7 to 37.0 secondsNormal

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’