Bronchoscopy Culture and Gram Stain

Test Mnemonic


CPT Codes

  • 87071 - QTY (1)
  • 87205 - QTY (1)




  • BAL culture
  • Lower Respiratory Culture

Performing Laboratory

Cleveland Clinic Laboratories

Specimen Requirements

Volume Type Container Collect Temperature Transport Temperature Special Instructions
UnspecifiedBrushing (s), bronchSterile containerRefrigeratedRefrigeratedProtected brush specimen
UnspecifiedBronch (BAL)Sterile containerRefrigeratedRefrigeratedBronchoalveolar lavage only


Environmental Condition Description
Refrigerated24 hours

Days Performed

Sun - Sat

Turnaround Time

7 days


Name Description
Culture, Identification 
Gram Stain 

Reference Range

Special Info

Quantitative culture for the recovery of aerobic bacteria is performed on respiratory specimens collected during bronchoscopy. Separate test orders are required to rule out the presence of mycobacteria, fungi, viruses, and atypical bacterial pathogens in respiratory specimens. Blood cultures are recommended for patients being evaluated for pneumonia. If culture is positive, identification will be performed on clinically significant organisms at an additional charge. Identification CPT codes that may apply include: 87206, 87077, 87106, 87107, 87153, 87158. Antimicrobial susceptibilities are performed when indicated, and the following CPT codes may apply: 87181, 87184, 87185, 87186.

Clinical Info

Distinguishing colonizing organisms from pathogens can be difficult. Susceptibility testing is performed on potential pathogens in amounts considered significant (1,000 cfu/ml in protected brush samples, 10,000 cfu/ml in bronchoalveolar lavage samples, pure culture, or predominance on Gram stain). Correlation of culture results with clinical findings is essential.