Mycobacterium – Blood

Consistent with O. Reg. 671/92 of the French Language Services Act, laboratory testing information on this page is only available in English because it is scientific or technical in nature and is for use only by qualified health care providers and not by members of the public.

Testing Indications

Mycobacterium testing from blood culture is indicated when there is suspicion of disseminated infection, e.g. in immunocompromised patients or suspicion of Mycobacterium chimera infection following open-chest heart surgery attributed to contamination of heater-cooler units during surgery.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit



6.0 ml

Blood culture tube1,2

Submission and Collection Notes


Collect whole blood using aseptic technique in one of the following blood culture tubes:

  • 10.0 ml SPS (yellow top tube) or
  • 10.0 ml heparin (green top tube) or
  • 10.0 ml isolator tube or
  • Bactec Myco/F lytic medium (minimum volume 5.0 ml)

Do not submit blood collected in EDTA, coagulated blood, blood in blood culture medium other than Myco/F Lytic, serum or plasma.


Blood may contain antimicrobials which can delay or inhibit the growth of mycobacteria.

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Specimens should be stored at room temperature and transferred to the lab ASAP.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

The Mycobacterium blood test is performed daily – Monday to Saturday. 

Turnaround time is up to 42 days from receipt by PHO Laboratory.

A positive culture is reported within 24 hours of growth. Depending on the species and treatment of the patient, a culture may grow within 1 to 2 weeks or take as long as 6 weeks.

Test Methods

Blood is tested using the BACTEC 9120 or BACTEC FX blood culture instruments (Becton Dickinson) using BACTEC Myco/ F Lytic culture media.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition. 

All new isolates of M. tuberculosis complex are phoned to the submitter within 24 hours of identification.

Specimens that are positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis are to be reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Additional Collection Information

Additional Mycobacterium Collection Information

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Updated 20 July 2020