Swabs were able to absorb enough extractable volatile fatty acids from broth cultures of anaerobic organisms for detection and analysis by gas-liquid chromatography (GLC). Similarly, volatile fatty acids were often detected in swabs dipped into liquid pus. Fifty-three liquid pus specimens were then investigated fully to determine if GLC analysis of swab samples gave the same result as microbial culture of the specimens and GLC analysis of the liquid pus. Anaerobic bacteria failed to grow from 36 and volatile fatty acids were not extracted from swabs of 31 of these pus samples but were extracted from swabs of five. Anaerobic bacteria were isolated from 17 of the specimens, and in 15, volatile fatty acids were also detected in the swab samples; in two, volatile fatty acids were absent from both swab samples and liquid pus. In this study, results by culture and GLC analysis of swabs were similar in 87% of specimens.
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