Viral Culture, Rapid, Lesion (Herpes Simplex Virus and Varicella Zoster Virus)

CPT: 87254; 87255
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  • Herpes Simplex and Varicella Zoster
  • HSV and VZ Culture
  • Lesion Culture
  • Viral Culture, Rapid, Varicella Zoster
  • Virus Isolation

Test Includes

Cell culture by ELVIS® method; identification and typing of herpes simplex virus. Shell vials or equivalent multiwell plate culture with fluorescent antibody staining for varicella-zoster. CPT coding for microbiology and virology procedures often cannot be determined before the culture is performed. This culture is for the isolation of herpes simplex and varicella-zoster, other viral agents will not be routinely detected. If a virus other than the one specified for this virus-specific culture is recovered, identification will be made, and an additional charge will apply. The client will not be telephoned to approve this charge. Requests with only a written order and no test number indicated will be processed according to Default Testing for Virology.

Special Instructions

If reflex test is performed, additional charges/CPT code(s) may apply.

Submit one specimen per test requested. Specify the exact specimen source/origin (eg, genital lesion). Indicate a specific test number on the test request form. Do not use transport device beyond the expiration date.

Expected Turnaround Time

5 - 6 days

Related Documents

For more information, please view the literature below.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Specimen Requirements


Vesicular fluid, ulcerated lesions, vesicular scrapings, pharyngeal and throat swabs, autopsy and biopsy material, vaginal swabs


Swab in viral transport media, 0.5 g tissue in viral transport medium


Viral, Chlamydia, or Mycoplasma culture transport provided by LabCorp, or other appropriate transport medium; sterile screw-cap container


Specimen is best collected within the first three days after appearance of lesion, but no longer than seven days. Do not prepare the collection site with alcohol or iodophors. After collection, remove cap from the transport media tube and insert swab aseptically into transport tube and break swab shaft. Replace cap so that swab will not interfere with closure and allow tube to leak. Label tube with patient identification and transport to the laboratory at 4°C.

Storage Instructions

Specimen should be kept at 4°C (refrigeration) and transported to the laboratory within 24 hours of collection.

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 device; 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; unlabeled specimen or name discrepancy between specimen and request label

Test Details


Enzyme-linked virus-inducible system (ELVIS®). ELVIS® HSV was developed using a transgenic baby hamster kidney-21 cell line. In this cell line, HSV infection causes the expression of a beta-galactosidase “reporter gene,” and it is the expression of this gene that can be used to monitor infection by HSV. Cultures positive by ELVIS® are confirmed by immunofluorescent staining. Shell vials or equivalent multiwell plate culture with fluorescent antibody staining is utilized for the recovery of varicella-zoster.


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. Diagnostic virology. Clin Lab Med. 1987; 7(4):721-740 (review). 3319366
Reichman RC. Herpes simplex viruses. In: Belshe RB, ed. Textbook of Human Virology. Littleton, Mass: PSG Publishing Co;1984:811-828.
Schauf V, Tolpin M. Varicella-zoster virus. In: Belshe RB, ed.Textbook of Human Virology. Littleton, Mass: PGS Publishing Co;1984:829-851.
Solomon AR. New diagnostic tests for herpes simplex and varicella zoster infections. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1988; 18(1 Pt 2):218-221. 2448353
Strommen GL, Pucino F, Tight RR, et al. Human infection with herpes zoster: Etiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, clinical course, and treatment. Pharmacotherapy. 1988; 8(1):52-68 (review).3287356


Order Code Order Code Name Order Loinc Result Code Result Code Name UofM Result LOINC
186056 Viral Culture,Rapid,Lesion 186057 HSV Culture/Type 5858-6
186056 Viral Culture,Rapid,Lesion 186058 Viral Culture, Rapid,Varicella 10860-5
Reflex Table for HSV Culture/Type
Order Code Order Name Result Code Result Name UofM Result LOINC
Reflex 1 186059 Viral Identification 186059 Viral Identification 615-5
Reflex Table for Viral Culture, Rapid,Varicella
Order Code Order Name Result Code Result Name UofM Result LOINC
Reflex 1 186060 Viral Identification 186060 Viral Identification 615-5

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