Evaluation of an automated culture system for detecting bacterial contamination of platelets: an analysis with 15 contaminating organisms

Transfusion. 2001 Apr;41(4):477-82. doi: 10.1046/j.1537-2995.2001.41040477.x.


Background: Approximately 1 in 2000 platelet components are bacterially contaminated. The time to detection of 15 seeded organisms in platelets recovered from an automated culture system was studied.

Study design and methods: Isolates of Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, Clostridium perfringens, Corynebacterium species, Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella oxytoca, Propionibacterium acnes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Serratia marcescens, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Streptococcus viridans were inoculated into Day 2 apheresis platelet components to obtain a final concentration of approximately 10 and 100 CFU per mL (2 units/organism). Each bag was sampled 10 times (20 mL/sample). Four mL of each sample was inoculated into standard aerobic and anaerobic bottles and into aerobic and anaerobic bottles containing charcoal; 2 mL was inoculated into pediatric aerobic bottles (so as to maintain a 1:10 ratio of sample to media) and 1 mL into thioglycollate broth.

Results: With the exception of P. acnes, all organisms were detected in a mean of 9.2 to 25.6 hours. A range of 10 serial dilutions in inoculating concentrations was associated with an overall 10.1-percent difference in detection time. A mean of 74.4 and 86.2 hours (100 and 10 CFU/mL inocula, respectively) was required for the detection of P. acnes in anaerobic bottles.

Conclusion: Bacteria thought to be clinically significant platelet contaminants can be detected in 9.2 to 25.6 hours when the starting concentration is approximately 10 to 100 CFU per mL. P. acnes required considerably longer incubation times for detection (in either aerobic or anaerobic bottles). However, P. acnes is of questionable clinical significance. Such a detection system could be used in either a blood collection center or a transfusion service to screen platelet concentrates for bacterial contamination. Such testing (with sterile sampling performed so as to maintain a closed-bag system) would be expected to save lives and might allow an extension of platelet storage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / transmission*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Platelet Transfusion / adverse effects*