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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Aug;35(8):2068-71.

Mycobacterial growth and bacterial contamination in the mycobacteria growth indicator tube and BACTEC 460 culture systems.

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Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


The BACTEC 460 system currently provides the most rapid detection of mycobacterial growth, but the system is radiometric and requires needles to inoculate specimens through the bottle's septum. The Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube (MGIT) system has a liquid medium, like the BACTEC system, and does not require needles when inoculating specimens. We compared mycobacterial growth from 510 specimens in the two systems. Average time to acid-fast bacillus (AFB) detection and identification to the species level was less with the BACTEC system, but this result was statistically significant only for AFB detection in specimens containing Mycobacterium avium-M. intracellulare complex. The contamination rate with MGIT was 29%; the BACTEC rate was 5%. To investigate MGIT contamination, we initiated a second study with changes in specimen processing. The MGIT contamination rate was reduced to 12%; the BACTEC rate was not significantly affected (5.5%). The most likely explanation for the contamination in MGIT is the richness of its medium compared to the BACTEC medium. Cost analysis for the two systems in a laboratory that processes 4,500 specimens a year is presented. The data suggest that the BACTEC 460 and the MGIT systems are approximately equivalent in cost and ability to support the growth of AFB. The MGIT system appears safer and easier to use and was preferred by laboratory personnel, but it cannot currently be used for blood specimens or antituberculosis susceptibility testing.

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