Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia.
mucous secretion from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea that is ejected through the mouth, in contrast to saliva, which is the secretion of the salivary glands. Called also expectoration.
induced sputum a sputum specimen produced for diagnostic tests by aerosol administration of a hypertonic saline solution.
sputum specimen a sample of mucous secretion from the bronchi and lungs. The specimen may be examined microscopically for the presence of malignant cells (cytologic examination) or tested to identify pathogenic bacteria (bacteriologic examination). It is essential that the specimen obtained be mucus from the lungs and bronchi and not saliva. For those unable to produce sputum for examination, an aerosol may be used to increase the flow of secretions and stimulate coughing. The optimum time for collection of a sputum specimen is in the morning before eating or drinking anything. At this time secretions accumulated in the bronchi through the night are more readily available, and, should the coughing produce gagging, the patient is less likely to vomit if the stomach is empty. Specimens collected for bacteriologic culture must be placed in a sterile container and handled with care to avoid contamination from sources other than the sputum.