Beyond Blood Culture and Gram Stain Analysis: A Review of Molecular Techniques for the Early Detection of Bacteremia in Surgical Patients

Michelle H. Scerbo*, Heidi B. Kaplan, Anahita Dua, Douglas B. Litwin, Catherine G. Ambrose, Laura J. Moore, Col Clinton K. Murray, Charles E. Wade, John B. Holcomb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Sepsis from bacteremia occurs in 250,000 cases annually in the United States, has a mortality rate as high as 60%, and is associated with a poorer prognosis than localized infection. Because of these high figures, empiric antibiotic administration for patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and suspected infection is the second most common indication for antibiotic administration in intensive care units (ICU)s. However, overuse of empiric antibiotics contributes to the development of opportunistic infections, antibiotic resistance, and the increase in multi-drug-resistant bacterial strains. The current method of diagnosing and ruling out bacteremia is via blood culture (BC) and Gram stain (GS) analysis. Methods: Conventional and molecular methods for diagnosing bacteremia were reviewed and compared. The clinical implications, use, and current clinical trials of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods to detect bacterial pathogens in the blood stream were detailed. Results: BC/GS has several disadvantages. These include: some bacteria do not grow in culture media; others do not GS appropriately; and cultures can require up to 5 d to guide or discontinue antibiotic treatment. PCR-based methods can be potentially applied to detect rapidly, accurately, and directly microbes in human blood samples. Conclusions: Compared with the conventional BC/GS, particular advantages to molecular methods (specifically, PCR-based methods) include faster results, leading to possible improved antibiotic stewardship when bacteremia is not present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-302
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical Infections
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

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