The detection of Leishmania
spp. in skin lesion aspirates, using a puncture technique, was evaluated in 76 patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) who were referred to a Leishmaniasis Reference Centre in Brazil. CL was defined based on skin lesions suggestive of the disease and on a positive result of the Montenegro skin test or Giemsa-stained imprints of biopsy fragments. The aspirates were cultured using a vacuum tube device containing culture medium and evaluated for the presence of Leishmania spp. The biphasic medium culture was examined once a week for three weeks. Promastigotes were observed in 53/76 (69.7%) cultures. Stained smears from 60 of the 76 patients were evaluated using PCR-RFLP to detect the conserved minicircle region of Leishmania
spp. and to classify the parasite. Of these patients, 45 (75%) showed positive results in aspirate culture and 15 presented negative results. The PCR was positive in 80% (53/60) samples. The PCR-RFLP profile was determined in 49 samples, of which 45 (92%) showed a pattern compatible with Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis
. The aspirate culture is a sensitive and feasible method for diagnosing CL and may be routinely adopted by health services for L. (V.) braziliensis
isolation and identification.