Pericardial fluid that is obtained from the heart is stained with a violet stain known as gram stain. The sample is then examined under the microscope for the presence of bacteria. The color, number, and morphologic appearance of the cells help make it possible to identify the organism. The test is performed when an infection of the heart is suspected, or when a pericardial effusion is present.
Review Date 11/24/2014
Updated by: Daniel Levy, MD, PhD, Infectious Diseases, Lutherville Personal Physicians, Lutherville, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.