Clinical value of obtaining sputum and cough swab samples following inhaled hypertonic saline in children with cystic fibrosis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2004 Jul;38(1):82-7. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20035.


Prompt detection and treatment of lower respiratory tract infection are essential in the management of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), who often have signs or symptoms of respiratory infection without any pathogens being isolated from sputum or cough swab specimens. The aims of this study were to assess the efficacy and clinical value of obtaining sputum and oropharyngeal cough swab samples following induction with hypertonic saline (HS) in this group of patients. Forty-three outpatients with CF, mean age 7.2 years (range, 1.8-12.9 years), were recruited over a 2-year period. Nebulized salbutamol was administered, followed by 6% HS. Sputum was preferentially obtained before and after HS induction if possible. If the patient was not able to expectorate, oropharyngeal cough swabs were taken instead. Four patients were able to expectorate sputum before and 19 after HS induction. The procedure was tolerated in 41 of 43 patients. Pathogens were isolated from 13 patients' HS-induced samples, but not from their corresponding preinduced specimens, and 4 patients' preinduced specimens cultured organisms which were not identified from their HS-induced samples. Significant changes were made in the management of 13 (30.2%) patients directly resulting from the positive culture of pathogens only from HS-induced samples. Cultures from oropharyngeal cough swab or expectorated sputum specimens following inhalation of HS provide additional microbiological information which is of clinical value and may lead to changes in patient management.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Specimen Handling
  • Sputum / microbiology*


  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic