Faster identification of pathogens in positive blood cultures by fluorescence in situ hybridization in routine practice

Remco P.H. Peters, Paul H.M. Savelkoul, Alberdina M. Simoons-Smit, Sven A. Danner, Christina M.J.E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, Michiel A. Van Agtmael*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rapid identification of microorganisms in blood cultures is required to optimize empirical treatment at an early stage. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) can reduce the time to identification of microorganisms in growth-positive blood cultures. In this study, we evaluated the performance, time to identification, and potential clinical benefits of FISH compared to those of conventional culture methods in routine practice. After Gram staining, blood culture fluids were simultaneously further identified with FISH and with conventional culture methods. Results and points in time of FISH and culture identification (provisional and final identifications) were collected and compared. For 91% of microorganisms, the genus or family name was identified, and for 79%, the species name could be attributed. The sensitivity and specificity of the individual probes exceeded 95%, except for the Enterobacteriaceae probe (sensitivity, 89%). Cross-hybridization was obtained with the Klebsiella pneumoniae probe for Klebsiella oxytoca. The time gains of FISH and final culture identification were more than 18 h for bacteria and 42 h for yeasts. With FISH, Staphylococcus aureus was differentiated from coagulase-negative staphylococci 1.4 h faster than by provisional identification (P < 0.001). In conclusion, FISH allows rapid and reliable identification of the majority of microorganisms in growth-positive blood cultures. The substantial time gain of identification with FISH may allow same-day adjustment of antimicrobial therapy, and FISH is especially useful if no provisional identification is obtained. With further extension of the number of probes and a reduction in turnaround time, FISH will become a very useful diagnostic tool in the diagnosis of bloodstream infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-123
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006

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