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J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Sep;47(9):2950-1. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00292-09. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

Discarding the initial aliquot of blood does not reduce contamination rates in intravenous-catheter-drawn blood cultures.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy & Immunology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-0019, USA.


Although venipuncture is the preferred method for obtaining blood cultures, specimens often are obtained from intravenous catheters (IVC). For IVC-drawn blood cultures, some authorities recommend discarding the initial 5 to 10 ml of blood to reduce contamination and remove potential inhibitory substances. To determine whether this practice reduced contamination rates (CR), we assessed the results of IVC-drawn blood cultures for adults. Thirty milliliters of blood was obtained aseptically. The first 10 ml, rather than being discarded, was inoculated into an aerobic culture vial. Using a second sterile syringe, 20 ml of blood was obtained and inoculated in 10-ml aliquots to aerobic and anaerobic culture vials. Positive cultures were evaluated to assess clinical significance (true versus contaminant). Out of 653 IVC-drawn blood culture pairs, both vials were contaminated in 38 pairs (5.8%); only the "discard" vial was contaminated in 33 (5.1%); and only the "standard" vial was contaminated in 31 (4.7%). Overall CR were 10.9% for the discard vial versus 10.5% for the standard vial (P = 0.90). We conclude that discarding an initial aliquot of blood when obtaining blood cultures from IVCs does not reduce CR.

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