Newcastle Laboratories

Mycobacteriology (TB)

The Regional Centre for Mycobacteria


Tuberculosis is a severe respiratory disease (although other forms affecting kidneys and skin etc. can be seen). Samples from patients suspected of having TB and related micro-organisms are handled in special high containment laboratories to protect laboratory workers and the general public from spread of the disease.

Samples such as sputum and urine are examined under the microscope for TB bacteria and are also cultured in sealed bottles. TB is relatively slow growing and may take a number of weeks to appear. A more rapid method that detects specific TB DNA can be used for rapid diagnosis. This laboratory is based at the Freeman Hospital.

Our department is also able to offer testing to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of rapidly growing nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) including Mycobacterium fortuitum group (M. fortuitum, M. peregrinum, M. fortuitum third biovariant complex), M. chelonae, M. abscessus complex, M. mucogenicum) and M. smegmatis group (M. smegmatis, M. goodii, M. wolinskyi). Nocardia spp and other aerobic actinomycetes. Slowly growing NTM, i.e. Mycobacterium avium complex, Mycobacterium kansasii and Mycobacterium marinum.