The BACTEC NR660 blood culture system, which uses infrared spectroscopy to detect carbon dioxide generated by bacterial growth, was compared with the new medium formulation of the Oxoid Signal system. Two trials were conducted: a comparative study of 88 organisms in simulated blood cultures and a clinical trial of 3,321 paired patient blood culture samples. Both trials showed that overall the BACTEC system performed better in the recovery of organisms. The Oxoid system was unable to detect by signal the growth of the majority of yeasts, nonfermentative gram-negative bacilli, Neisseria meningitidis, Nocardia spp., and Corynebacterium jeikeium. There were no significant differences in the yield of Staphylococcus spp., members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, Streptococcus spp., or anaerobic organisms. BACTEC detected growth more quickly than did the Oxoid system; 61% of the isolates were detected by BACTEC at 24 h, while 49% of the isolates were detected by Oxoid. The Oxoid system had a high proportion (58.5%) of false-positives, compared with 7.7% for the BACTEC system. Despite the new medium formulation of the Oxoid system, its performance is still not equivalent to that of the BACTEC system
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