Carbapenemases have become a significant mechanism for broad-spectrum β-lactam resistance in Enterobacteriaceae and other Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter spp. Intestinal carriage of carbapenemase-producing organisms (CPOs) is an important source of transmission. Isolation of carriers is one strategy that can be used to limit the spread of these bacteria. In this review, we critically examine the clinical performance, advantages, and disadvantages of methods available for the detection of intestinal carriage of CPOs. Culture-based methods (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] protocols, chromogenic media, specialized agars, and double-disk synergy tests) for detecting carriage of CPOs are convenient due to their ready availability and low cost, but their limited sensitivity and long turnaround time may not always be optimal for infection control practices. Contemporary nucleic acid amplification techniques (NAATs) such as real-time PCR, hybridization assays, loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), or a combined culture and NAAT approach may provide fast results and/or added sensitivity and specificity compared with culture-based methods. Infection control practitioners and clinical microbiologists should be aware of the strengths and limitations of available methods to determine the most suitable approach for their medical facility to fit their infection control needs.
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