APPARATUS FOR COLLECTING CULTURES
This is a division of application Ser. No. 781,298 filed 5 Mar. 25, 1977, U.S. Pat. No. 4,184,483, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 589;521, filed June 23, 1975, U.S. Pat. No. 4,014,746, which is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 358,350, filed May 8, 1973, U.S. Pat. No. 3,890,954. 10
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a swabbing method and apparatus for use by physicians and technicians for collecting a culture as from various areas of a patient's 15 body, such as the ears, the nose and throat, and for keeping a culture moist and alive for a period of time after it is collected or for use in identifying the bacteria of the culture.
In general, this is accomplished through the use of a 20 container which receives the culture-carrying swab and bathes the swab in a culture-sustaining liquid. U.S. Pat. No. 3,450,129—Avery et al discloses a particular container unit for this purpose. The container carries its own supply of liquid in a frangible ampoule along with 25 a swab, all of which is packaged in a sanitary wrapper. After the swab has been removed from the wrapper and container and a culture has been taken, the sWab is inserted back into the container, a cap is applied to the end of the container and the frangible ampoule is broken 30 so as to bathe the absorbent tip of the swab in the culture-sustaining liquid which was encapsulated in the ampoule.
Another container is disclosed in the U.S. Pat. No. 3,776,220—Monaghan. The container also carries its 35 own sealed supply of liquid below a first sealed area in the tube and the swab itself, prior to use, is located in the tube such that the absorbent tip is positioned immediately above the sealed area and below a restricted area. After the culture is taken, the swab is reinserted 40 into the container, through the restricted area and the sealed area so as to reach the culture-sustaining liquid at the bottom of the tube. The sealed area immediately above the culture-sustaining liquid no longer forms a seal but permits air to enter the area of the absorbent tip 45 and the culture-sustaining liquid.
Another container is disclosed in the U.S. Pat. No. 3,163,160-Cohen which utilizes a member including a valve initially positioned above the culture-sustaining liquid. After the culture has been taken, the bottom of 50 the container may be squeezed so as to force the culture-sustaining liquid upwardly through the valve into saturating contact with the absorbent tip of the swab. There is no movement of the valve member in response to movement of the swab or the absorbent tip. In fact, 55 the absorbent tip of the swab does not contact the valve member.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,579,303-Pickering discloses a flexible swab container in combination with a clip which may be utilized to form a seal between the flexible container 60 and the elongated member which extends to the absorbent tip of the swab which is submersed in a culture-sustaining liquid. Still another sampling unit is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,388,043-Ingvorsen.
German Pat. No. 285,835 discloses a container in- 65 eluding a valve member for use in moistening a swab with a disinfecting liquid. However, the swab itself is not used to force the plug through the disinfecting liq
uid. Rather, a plunger connected to the plug from the other side of the swab moves the plug through a tube.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,508,653-Coleman discloses a plug having a valve for serum separation. It does not however suggest that such a valve could be utilized in combination with a swab stick to control the introduction of a culture-sustaining liquid into contact with the absorbent tip of the swab.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is a general object of this invention to provide new and improved apparatus for collecting cultures.
In accordance with one important aspect of the invention, the apparatus comprises a movable piston member extending across the tubular container and in sealing engagement with both sides thereof between the closed end and the barrier member. The piston member is movable through the culture-sustaining liquid toward the closed end when the swab is in pushing contact with the piston member. The piston member includes a valve means for allowing the culture-sustaining liquid to pass from a chamber formed between the closed end and the piston member and enter the chamber within the piston member when the swab is in pushing contact with the piston member.
In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the valve means comprises a flange which forms a seal with the hollow tubular container while also allowing the culture medium to pass into the chamber.
In accordance with another important aspect of the invention, the absorbent tip of the swab may be inserted into and withdrawn from the chamber without substantially moving the piston member or the barrier member.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a culture collecting apparatus embodying the invention in its wrapper;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the culture collecting apparatus embodying the invention;
FIG. 2a is an enlarged view of a valve in the plug of the culture collecting apparatus shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 2b is a partial elevational view of the markings on the container tube shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the apparatus of FIG. 2 after the culture-carrying swab has been sealed into its container tube;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a piston member or plug which may be utilized in the apparatus of FIGS. 2 and 3;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a culture collecting apparatus representing another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a culture collecting apparatus representing still another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 6a is a sectional view of the apparatus of FIG. 6 after the swab has been inserted into the culture-sustaining or transport position;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view of a culture collecting apparatus representing a further embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of a culture collecting apparatus representing still a further embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a culture collecting apparatus which represents another embodiment of this invention;