Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Culture Without Typing

CPT: 87255
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Test Details


  • Nontyping Culture
  • Viral Culture, Herpes Simplex


Enzyme-linked virus-inducible system (ELVIS®). In this cell line, HSV infection causes the expression of a β-galactosidase “reporter gene,” and it is the expression of this gene that can be used to monitor infection by HSV.

Additional Information

Infectious HSV is rarely present in CSF during encephalitis, resulting in a poor recovery by culture (<5% in adults, <50% in children). Studies have shown a >98% detection of HSV DNA in CSF by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and this method is now considered the standard for diagnosis of HSV encephalitis. For HSV PCR testing, please request test 138651. HSV is occasionally isolated from the CSF of patients with HSV 2 meningitis and of neonates with congenital herpes, and from urine of patients with primary genital HSV infections concurrent with cystitis.

Specimen Requirements


Vesicular fluid, ulcerated lesions, pharyngeal and throat swabs, urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), autopsy and biopsy material, eye exudates, and vaginal swabs

Minimum Volume

Swab in viral transport medium, 1 mL fluid, 0.5 g tissue in transport medium


Viral, Chlamydia, or Mycoplasma culture transport provided by LabCorp, or other appropriate transport medium (for swabs); body fluids and tissue samples may be submitted in viral transport media or in a sterile leakproof container.


Specimen is best collected within the first three days following the appearance of a lesion but no more than seven days. After collection, remove the cap from the transport medium tube, and insert the swab aseptically into the transport tube and break the swab shaft. Replace the cap so that the swab will not interfere with closure and allow the tube to leak. Label the tube with patient identification and transport specimen to the laboratory at 4°C.

Storage Instructions

Maintain specimen at 4°C.

Causes for Rejection

Bacterial swab specimen; specimen received in grossly leaking transport container; dry specimen; specimen submitted in fixative or additive; specimen received in expired transport media or incorrect transport devices; inappropriate specimen transport conditions; specimen received after prolonged delay in transport (usually more than 72 hours); specimen stored or transported at room temperature; wooden shaft swab in transport device; calcium alginate swab; unlabeled specimen or name discrepancy between specimen and request label

Clinical Information

Special Instructions

Submit one specimen per test requested. Specify the exact specimen source/origin (eg, genital lesion). Indicate a specific test number on the request form. Check expiration date of transport; do not use expired devices.


Arvin AM, Prober CG. Herpes simplex viruses. In: Balows A, Hausler WJ, et al, eds.Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 5th ed. Washington, DC: ASM Press;1991:822-828.
Drew WL. Laboratory diagnosis of HSV infections. Clin Lab Med. 1987; 7:721-791.
Reichman RC. Herpes simplex viruses. In: Belshe RB, ed. Textbook of Human Virology. Littleton, Mass: PSG Publishing Co;1984:811-828.
Solomon AR. New diagnostic tests for herpes simplex and varicella zoster infections. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1988; 18(1 Pt 2):218-221.2448353


Order Code Order Code Name Order Loinc Result Code Result Code Name UofM Result LOINC
186072 HSV Culture Without Typing 5859-4 186073 HSV Culture Without Typing 5859-4

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