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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2013 Feb;75(2):130-4. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Routine use of a real-time polymerase chain reaction method for detection of bloodstream infections in neutropaenic patients.

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Unit of Microbiology, Department of Specialistic, Diagnostic and Experimental Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


We examined the performance of a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test (SeptiFast) for early detection of bloodstream infection in febrile neutropaenic patients. Blood samples from 201 patients were screened for pathogens by blood culture and by PCR on the first day of fever. PCR results were available earlier (median 3 days for bacteria, 5 days fungal pathogens; P ≤ 0.01). The sensitivity (0.74) and specificity (0.96) of the PCR test were acceptable for Gram negatives when culture was considered the gold standard, but sensitivity of the test was poorer for Gram-positive organisms (0.39). The PCR assay also led to 22.9% of invalid results. SeptiFast speeds the microbiological diagnosis of bloodstream infection in neutropaenic patients. However, the frequent failure of instrumental control procedures, the relatively poor sensitivity of the test, and the lack of phenotypic data on antimicrobial susceptibility associated with its high costs suggest that this assay cannot replace the blood cultures.

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