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J Clin Microbiol. 1998 Sep;36(9):2686-9.

Controlled comparative evaluation of BacT/Alert FAN and ESP 80A aerobic media as means for detecting bacteremia and fungemia.

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University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA.


During a one-year period, a total of 6,305 blood cultures were processed in a tertiary-care teaching hospital; 6 to 12 ml of blood was inoculated into both a BacT/Alert Fan aerobic bottle and an ESP 80A aerobic bottle. The FAN aerobic bottle contains an antimicrobial-absorbing material; the 80A aerobic bottle does not. Bottles were processed on their respective continuous-monitoring blood culture instruments for up to five days of incubation. Four hundred thirty-three cultures (6.9%) representing 301 septic episodes in 235 different patients yielded 490 bacteria or yeasts thought to be clinically significant. Two hundred seventy-five of the 433 presumed clinically significant positive cultures (63.5%) representing 195 septic episodes and yielding 301 isolates were positive in both FAN and 80A bottles. One hundred nine significant positive cultures (25.2%) (i.e., cultures positive with an organism judged to be of probable clinical significance) from 70 septic episodes yielded 126 isolates only in FAN bottles. Conversely, the 80A bottle was exclusively positive in 49 instances (11.3%), representing 36 septic episodes and yielding 63 isolates. The higher rates of significant positive blood cultures, numbers of septic episodes documented, and numbers of isolates recovered in FAN bottles versus 80A bottles were all statistically significant (P < 0.05). Enhanced rates of detection of presumed clinically significant isolates in FAN bottles were largely accounted for by Staphylococcus aureus, members of the Enterobacteriaceae, and non-Pseudomonas aeruginosa miscellaneous gram-negative bacilli from patients receiving antimicrobial therapy at the time blood cultures were obtained. Enhanced recovery of one organism group, the beta-hemolytic streptococci, occurred in 80A. With one exception, detection times were essentially equivalent in the two systems. The single exception pertained to streptococci and enterococci, which were recovered significantly faster in 80A bottles. Three hundred thirty-eight of the 6,305 blood cultures evaluated in this study (5.4%) were judged likely to be contaminated. The percentages of probable contaminated cultures were as follows: 26.6% FAN and 80A; 42.3% FAN only; 31.1% 80A only (P < 0.05). Finally, the instrument false-positive rates for the two systems were 0.7% with FAN and 3.0% with 80A (P < 0.05). We conclude that while contamination rates were slightly higher with FAN than with 80A, use of FAN aerobic bottles in conjunction with the BacT/Alert system will yield significantly higher numbers of clinically significant blood culture isolates than 80A bottles and the ESP system. Furthermore, this enhanced detection is most conspicuous in patients receiving antimicrobial therapy at the time blood cultures are performed, probably due to the presence of an antimicrobial-absorbing material in FAN aerobic bottles.

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