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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Jan;40(1):26-30.

Comparison of two culture methods for detection of tobramycin-resistant gram-negative organisms in the sputum of patients with cystic fibrosis.

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Chiron Corporation, Seattle, Washington, USA.


A culture method utilizing quantitative plating on antibiotic-containing media has been proposed as a technique for the detection of tobramycin-resistant organisms that is more sensitive than standard methods. Typical sputum culture methods quantitate the relative amounts of each distinct morphotype, followed by antibiotic susceptibility testing of a single colony of each morphotype. Sputum specimens from 240 cystic fibrosis patients were homogenized, serially diluted, and processed in parallel by the standard method (MacConkey agar and OF basal medium with agar, polymyxin, bacitracin, and lactose) and by plating on antibiotic-containing media (MacConkey agar with tobramycin added at 25 microg/ml [MAC-25] and 100 microg/ml [MAC-100]). MICs of tobramycin were determined for all Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates by broth microdilution. Growth of P. aeruginosa on MAC-25 was considered to be equivalent to a tobramycin MIC of > or = 16 microg/ml, and growth on MAC-100 was considered to be equivalent to a tobramycin MIC of > or = 128 microg/ml. Analysis of method-specific detection rates showed that tobramycin-containing medium was more sensitive than the standard method for the detection of tobramycin-resistant P. aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Achromobacter xylosoxidans but was less sensitive for the detection of Burkholderia cepacia than the standard method. When MICs for P. aeruginosa that grew on tobramycin-containing medium were tested by broth microdilution, the MICs for 28 of 121 strains (23%) growing on MAC-25 and 22 of 56 strains (39%) growing on MAC-100 were MICs < 16 and < 128 microg/ml, respectively. Addition of a tobramycin-containing MacConkey plate to the routine media for sputum culture may provide additional, clinically relevant microbiologic data.

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