“Should peri-anal swabs be accepted by the microbiology laboratory?”

Superficial swabs in general have limited value, but few are as useless as the peri-anal swab.

Given the area that one is attempting to swab from, it is not surprising that a good proportion of these grow mixed enteric flora.

And if there is something to swab (either because the abscess has been incised or is discharging naturally), then most of the time the patient is well on the way to recovery.

I would love to survey 100 patients who had a peri-anal swab performed, to see what proportion it changed the management in. It will be low, very low..

In today’s microbiology lab, where we are trying our best to focus our efforts where we can make a difference, there is no place for peri-anal swabs.


My apologies for this website being out of action for the past few weeks. The new baby (Albie) arrived, just a couple of days late, but he then had to spend a few days in the Special Care Unit with an infection. All is well now, but it has taken a few weeks to get back to normal life..

Simultaneously to the above, the website went down with technical problems and it has taken until now to get round to fixing it.  With 5 young children, I have to grab an hour here and there to do this, usually in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping!

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