The Dark Art of Blood Cultures

Editors: Wm. Michael Dunne, Jr.1,2,3, Carey-Ann D. Burnham4
Affiliations: 1: bioMérieux, Inc., Durham, North Carolina; 2: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri; 3: Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina; 4: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Content Type: Reference
Format: Paperback
Publication Year: 2017

Category: Clinical Microbiology

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Understanding the diagnostic methods necessary to identify bloodstream infections

In the clinical microbiology laboratory, blood is a critical diagnostic sample that, in the majority of cases is sterile (or is it?). However, when microbes gain access to and multiply in the bloodstream, it can result in life-threatening illness including sepsis. Mortality rates from bloodstream infection and sepsis range from 25% to 80%, killing millions of people annually. Blood cultures are a vital technology used in the microbiology laboratory to isolate and identify microbes and predict their response to antimicrobial therapy.

, edited by Wm. Michael Dunne, Jr., and Carey-Ann D. Burnham, surveys the entire field of blood culture technology, providing valuable information about every phase of the process, from drawing samples to culture methods to processing positive cultures. The Dark Art of Blood Cultures is organized around several major topics.

  • History of blood culture methods. Details the timeline of blood culture methods from manual through automated and describes the technological development of the leading automated blood culture systems (Bactec, BacT/Alert, and VersaTREK).
  • Manual and automated blood culture methods. Critiques manual and automated methods for setting up blood cultures for adult and pediatric patients.
  • Detection of pathogens directly from blood specimens. Describes currently available CE marked and FDA-cleared commercial tests using both phenotypic and genotypic markers, including their strengths and limitations.
  • The workflow of culturing blood. Includes best practices from specimen collection to culture system verification, processing positive cultures for microbe identification and antibiotic susceptibility determination, along with the epidemiology of positive blood cultures and the value of postmortem blood cultures.
  • Microorganisms in the blood. Examines the concept of a blood microbiome in healthy and diseased individuals.

is a resource that clinicians, laboratorians, lab directors, and hospital administrators will find engaging and extremely useful.

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