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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 Nov;37(11):3578-82.

Use of BACTEC MGIT 960 for recovery of mycobacteria from clinical specimens: multicenter study.

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  • 1Laboratorio di Microbiologia e Virologia, Ospedale di Careggi, 50134 Florence, Italy. tortoli@dada.it


The BACTEC MGIT 960 instrument is a fully automated system that exploits the fluorescence of an oxygen sensor to detect growth of mycobacteria in culture. Its performance was compared to those of the radiometric BACTEC 460 instrument and egg-based Lowenstein-Jensen medium. An identical volume of sample was inoculated in different media, and incubation was carried out for 6 weeks with the automatic systems and for 8 weeks on solid media. A total of 2,567 specimens obtained from 1,631 patients were cultured in parallel. Mycobacteria belonging to nine different taxa were isolated by at least one of the culture systems, with 75% of them being represented by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The best yield was obtained with the BACTEC 460 system, with 201 isolates, in comparison with 190 isolates with the BACTEC MGIT 960 system and 168 isolates with Lowenstein-Jensen medium. A similar but not significant difference was obtained when the most-represented organisms, the M. tuberculosis complex, Mycobacterium xenopi, and the Mycobacterium avium complex, were analyzed separately and when combinations of a solid medium with the BACTEC MGIT 960 system and with the BACTEC 460 system were considered. The shortest times to detection were obtained with the BACTEC MGIT 960 system (13.3 days); 1.5 days earlier than that with the BACTEC 460 system (14.8 days) and 12 days earlier than that with Lowenstein-Jensen medium (25.6 days). The BACTEC MGIT 960 system had a contamination rate of 10.0%, intermediate between those of the radiometric system (3.7%) and the egg-based medium (17.0%). We conclude, therefore, that the BACTEC MGIT 960 system is a fully automated, nonradiometric instrument that is suitable for the detection of growth of tuberculous and other mycobacterial species and that is characterized by detection times that are even shorter than that of the "gold standard," the BACTEC 460 system. The contamination rate was higher than that for the radiometric BACTEC 460 system and needs to be improved.

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