Evaluation of optimal blood culture incubation time to maximize clinically relevant results from a contemporary blood culture instrument and media system

Eric M. Ransom, Zahra Alipour, Meghan A. Wallace, Carey Ann D. Burnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Timely diagnosis of microorganisms in blood cultures is necessary to optimize therapy. Although blood culture media and systems have evolved for decades, the standard interval for incubation prior to being discarded as negative has remained 5 days. Here, we evaluated the optimal incubation time for the BacT/Alert Virtuo blood culture detection system (bioMérieux) using FA Plus (aerobic) and FN Plus (anaerobic) resin culture bottles in routine clinical use. Following institutional review board (IRB) approval, a retrospective review evaluated the outcomes of 158,710 bottles collected between November 2018 and October 2019. The number of positive blood bottles was 13,592 (8.6%); 99% of positive aerobic and anaerobic bottles flagged positive by 91.5 and 108 h, respectively. The mean (median) times to positivity were 18.4 h (15.6 h) for Staphylococcus aureus, 12.3 h (9.5 h) for Escherichia coli, 22.2 h (15.9 h) for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 48.9 h (42.9 h) for Candida spp. Only 175 bottles (0.1% of all bottles) flagged positive after 4 days of incubation; 89 (51%) of these bottles grew Cutibacterium (Propionibacterium) species. Chart review of blood cultures positive after 4 days (96 h) rarely had a clinical impact and sometimes had a negative impact on patient care. Finally, a seeded study of the HACEK group (i.e., Haemophilus, Aggregatibacter, Cardiobacterium, Eikenella, and Kingella), historically associated with delayed blood culture positivity, demonstrated no benefit to extended incubation beyond 4 days. Collectively, these findings demonstrated that a 4-day incubation time was sufficient for the Virtuo system and media. Implementation of the 4-day incubation time could enhance clinically relevant results by reducing recovery of contaminants and finalizing blood cultures 1 day earlier.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02459-20
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • BacT/Alert
  • Blood culture
  • Cutibacterium
  • Escherichia coli
  • FA Plus
  • FN Plus
  • Growth rate
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Time to positivity
  • Virtuo

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