Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Dual-site blood culture yield and time to positivity in neonatal late-onset sepsis


Objective To determine whether culture yield and time to positivity (TTP) differ between peripheral and central vascular catheter-derived blood cultures (BCx) in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients evaluated for late-onset sepsis.

Design Single-centre, retrospective, observational study.

Setting Level IV NICU.

Participants The study included infants >72 hours old admitted to NICU in 2007–2019 with culture-confirmed bacteraemia. All episodes had simultaneous BCx drawn from a peripheral site and a vascular catheter (‘catheter culture’).

Main outcome measures Dual-site culture yield and TTP.

Results Among 179 episodes of late-onset bacteraemia (among 167 infants) with concurrently drawn peripheral and catheter BCx, the majority (67%, 120 of 179) were positive from both sites, compared with 17% (30 of 179) with positive catheter cultures only and 16% (29 of 179) with positive peripheral cultures only. 66% (19 of 29) of episodes with only positive peripheral BCx grew coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, while 34% (10 of 29) were recognised bacterial pathogens. Among 120 episodes with both peripheral and catheter BCx growth, catheter cultures demonstrated bacterial growth prior to paired peripheral cultures in 78% of episodes (93 of 120, p<0.001). The median TTP was significantly shorter in catheter compared with peripheral cultures (15.0 hours vs 16.8 hours, p<0.001). The median elapsed time between paired catheter and peripheral culture growth was 1.3 hours.

Conclusion Concurrently drawn peripheral and catheter BCx had similar yield. While a majority of episodes demonstrated dual-site BCx growth, a small but important minority of episodes grew virulent pathogens from either culture site alone. While dual-site culture practices may be useful, clinicians should balance the gain in sensitivity of bacteraemia detection against additive contamination risk.

  • sepsis
  • intensive care units
  • neonatal
  • neonatology
  • infectious disease medicine

Data availability statement

No data are available. Not applicable.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.