Utility of obtaining blood cultures in febrile neutropenic patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2000 Sep;26(5):533-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bmt.1702535.


Infection remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. To evaluate the role of obtaining blood cultures for intermittent or persistent fever in neutropenic patients on antibiotic therapy, we performed a retrospective chart review of 196 consecutive patients admitted to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the University of North Carolina Hospitals from 1995 to 1998. From the cohort of 196 patients, 154 patients developed neutropenic fever. The initial blood culture was positive in 16 of 145 patients during the first fever episode giving a prevalence of 11%. From the total of 109 patients that had blood cultures drawn after day 1 of fever, five patients had blood cultures positive for a pathogen, a prevalence of 4.6%. In only one patient, did blood cultures drawn after day 1 identify an organism not present on day 1 (prevalence 0.9%). After reviewing the results in the first 105 patients, we changed our timing of collection of blood cultures. Forty-nine patients were treated in this manner and we found that the mean number of blood cultures decreased from 9.2 to 4.7 per patient without a change in the frequency of infectious complications or length of hospitalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bacteremia / diagnosis*
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bacteriological Techniques / economics
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Bacteriological Techniques / statistics & numerical data*
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Culture Media
  • Female
  • Fever / drug therapy
  • Fever / microbiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutropenia / microbiology*
  • Neutropenia / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Culture Media