Staphylococcus aureus & MRSA Screen, PCR, Nasal

Test Mnemonic


CPT Codes

  • 87640 - QTY (1)
  • 87641 - QTY (1)




  • Methicillin Resistant Staph aureus
  • MRSA
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • aureus
  • MSSA
  • nasal
  • screen
  • Staph

Performing Laboratory

Cleveland Clinic Laboratories

Specimen Requirements

Volume Type Container Collect Temperature Transport Temperature Special Instructions
OneNasalSwab in Amies or Stuart's media without charcoal RefrigeratedCollect specimen with Cepheid Collection Device, Oracle 1616432. Swabs in gel or other transport medium, dry swabs, and swabs with wooden shaft will be rejected.


Environmental Condition Description
Ambient24 hours --- Acceptable specimens should be kept at room temperature (15-28 C) if it will be processed within 24 hours, otherwise store at 2-8 C.
Refrigerated5 days (4 days for patients <= 21 years of age)
FrozenUnacceptable. Will be rejected.

Days Performed

Sun - Sat

Turnaround Time

1 day


Name Description
Reverse Transcription/Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT/PCR) 

Reference Range

Sex Age From Age To Type Range Range Unit
       NormalNot Detected 
Staph aureus PCR
Sex Age From Age To Type Range Range Unit
       NormalNot Detected 

Special Info

With patient's head tilted back, insert both dry swabs (leave attached to red cap) approximately 1-2 cm into one nostril. Rotate the swabs against the inside of the nostril for 3 seconds. Apply slight pressure with a finger on the outside of the nose to ensure good contact between the swabs and inside of the nose. Using the same swabs, repeat for the other nostril. Place the swabs into the transport tube (swabs should stay attached to the red cap). Make sure the red cap is tightly on the transport tube.

Clinical Info

This test detects Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from nasal swabs to determine the Staph aureus carrier status of patients prior to surgery. Specimens other than nares require culture (SANSAL). Testing is performed 7 days/week, 24 hrs/day. TAT for this assay in most cases is expected to be 4-6 hours after receipt in Microbiology. The test is intended to aid in the prevention and control of MRSA/SA infections in healthcare settings.

Clinical Limitation

The Staph aureus PCR test is not intended to diagnose, guide or monitor treatment for MRSA/SA infections, or provide results of susceptibility to methicillin. A negative result does not preclude MRSA/SA nasal colonization. Concomitant cultures are necessary to recover organisms for epidemiological typing or for further susceptibility testing.