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BACKGROUND: Concentration of microorganisms in blood is low in bacteremia from extravascular sources. The best yield from blood cultures is achieved by culturing a minimun of 10-20 ml, although in some processing blood culture systems such as Bactec NR-860, smaller volume is used. The objectives of the present study were to establish the frequency in which inadequate small blood volumes are employed for culturing and to analyze the relation between the cultured blood volume in Bactec 6A bottles and the yield achieved. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We weighed 2000 Bactec 6A bottles pertaining to consecutive blood cultures obtained from untreated patients with clinical suspicion of infection. The cultured blood volume was estimated subtracting the mean empty bottle weight. RESULTS: Microorganisms were recovered from 251 bottles (12.5%). One hundred and thirty one (6.8%) isolates were considered as clinically significant and 115 (5.7%) as contaminant. The inoculated blood volume in both significant (5.532 ±1.587 ml) and non-significant (5.471 ± 1.563 ml) recoveries was superior than that of bottles without microbiologic growth (5.209 ± 1.575 ml, p = 0.016 and p = 0.06, respectively). A.linear positive trend was found between the cultivated blood volume and the rate of recoveries (p = 0.008). Within the range of 1 up to 10 ml, the rate of recoveries increased 2.28% for each additional ml of cultivated blood (r = 0.953, p < 0.0001). Out of the 2,000 weighed bottles 127 (6.3%) contained less than 3 ml of blood and 576 (29%) between 3 and 5 ml. CONCLUSIONS: We have proved that the rate of recoveries from Bactec 6A bottles increased with the volume of cultured blood. In untreated patients, this increase is mantained up to volumes of 7 to 10 ml.


Journal article


Medicina Clinica

Publication Date





521 - 523