Use of acid-fast bacilli staining to determine the need for airborne infection isolation precautions: A comparison of respiratory specimens

Christina Silkaitis*, Laura Bardowski, Cara Coomer, Kathryn Trakas, Mary Alice Lavin, Susheel Reddy, Maureen K. Bolon, Teresa R. Zembower

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Institution of appropriate airborne infection isolation (AII) precautions for patients with suspected Mycobacterium tuberculosis is critical to prevent disease transmission. We compared the yield of acid-fast bacilli smears from different types of respiratory specimens and found that smear sensitivity was highest for specimens obtained by endotracheal aspirates (92%), followed by sputum (79%), and then by bronchoalveolar lavage (37%). As a result of this study, our institutional policy regarding discontinuation of AII precautions was amended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1246
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Acid-fast bacilli
  • Isolation precautions
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Respiratory specimens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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