The performance characteristics of the Isolator (Wampole Laboratories, Cranbury, N.J.) and the BacT/Alert (Organon Teknika Corporation, Durham, N.C.) aerobic blood culture systems were compared for 6,009 blood culture sets obtained from patients with suspected bloodstream infections. The BacT/Alert aerobic bottle [BTA(O2)] was continuously agitated while it was incubated in 5% CO2 at 36 degrees C; culture plates prepared from the Isolator tube [I(O2)] were incubated in 5% CO2 at 37 degrees C. From 394 blood cultures, 416 clinically significant isolates of bacteria and yeasts were recovered. The overall yields for BTA(O2) and I(O2) were not significantly different (319 versus 336; P = 0.20). I(O2) recovered significantly more staphylococcus (P < 0.05) and yeast isolates (P < 0.01). BTA(O2) recovered significantly more aerobic and facultatively anaerobic gram-negative bacilli (P < 0.05). In blood culture sets which produced growth of the same organisms in both the BTA(O2) and I(O2) systems, the BTA(O2) system detected growth sooner, but more rapid identification was possible with the I(O2) system by virtue of earlier isolation of colonies on solid media
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