Background: Timely identification of pathogens is crucial to minimize mortality in patients with severe infections. Detection of bacterial and fungal pathogens in blood by nucleic acid amplification promises to yield results faster than blood cultures (BC). We analyzed the clinical impact of a commercially available multiplex PCR system in patients with suspected sepsis.
Methods: Blood samples from patients with presumed sepsis were cultured with the Bactec 9240 system (Becton Dickinson, Heidelberg, Germany) and aliquots subjected to analysis with the LightCycler SeptiFast (SF) Test (Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany) at a tertiary care centre. For samples with PCR-detected pathogens, the actual impact on clinical management was determined by chart review. Furthermore a comparison between the time to a positive blood culture result and the SF result, based on a fictive assumption that it was done either on a once or twice daily basis, was made.
Results: Of 101 blood samples from 77 patients, 63 (62%) yielded concordant negative results, 14 (13%) concordant positive and 9 (9%) were BC positive only. In 14 (13%) samples pathogens were detected by SF only, resulting in adjustment of antibiotic therapy in 5 patients (7,7% of patients). In 3 samples a treatment adjustment would have been made earlier resulting in a total of 8 adjustments in all 101 samples (8%).
Conclusion: The addition of multiplex PCR to conventional blood cultures had a relevant impact on clinical management for a subset of patients with presumed sepsis.