Setting: Taiwan Provincial Chronic Disease Control Bureau.
Objective: To evaluate the rate of recovery and the mean time to detection (TTD) of mycobacteria in clinical specimens with two culture systems, the BACTEC MGIT 960 and Löwenstein-Jensen (LJ) medium.
Design: We studied 365 specimens, collected from 166 patients. Specimens were processed with standard N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NALC)-NaOH method, then inoculated onto BACTEC MGIT 960 and onto LJ slants.
Results: A total of 124 mycobacterial isolates (114 Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 10 non-tuberculous mycobacteria) were detected. The recovery rates were 94% (117/124) with BACTEC MGIT 960 and 75.8% (94/124) with LJ. The rates of contamination for each of the systems were 5.5% with BACTEC MGIT 960 and 4.1% with LJ. The TTDs for mycobacteria were 10.7 days with BACTEC MGIT 960 and 30.6 days with LJ. Excluding the non-tuberculous mycobacteria, the TTDs for M. tuberculosis were 11.1 days with BACTEC MGIT 960 and 30.7 days with LJ. The difference in TTD between smear-positive and smear-negative specimens for either mycobacteria (10.0 vs 12.6 days; P = 0.06) or M. tuberculosis (10.1 vs 12.7 days; P = 0.06) with BACTEC MGIT 960 was not statistically significant.
Conclusion: The BACTEC MGIT 960 system can expedite the recovery of mycobacteria in culture. Combined with conventional solid medium, it also increases the overall recovery of mycobacteria in culture.