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Blood culture volume and detection of coagulase negative staphylococcal septicaemia in neonates
  1. G Jawaheera,
  2. T J Nealb,
  3. N J Shawa
  1. aNeonatal Intensive Care Unit, Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool, bRegional Public Health Laboratory, Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool
  1. Mr G Jawaheer, Department of Paediatric Surgery, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh EH9 1LF.


A prospective, blind study was carried out to determine: the amount of blood submitted for culture from neonates; whether small blood volumes resulted in false negative results; and whether there was a temporal relation between volume of blood cultured and time to positivity.

 Seventy three bottles were evaluated. They contained a median of 0.63 ml of blood. Twenty nine bottles (39.7%) contained less than 0.5 ml of blood; 21 bottles (28.8%) were positive. There were three false negative cultures, only one of which contained a blood volume below 0.5 ml. The median time to positivity was 22.4 hours. There was no correlation between blood volume cultured and time to positivity.

 Neonatal cultures frequently contain less than 0.5 ml of blood. False negative cultures are rare. Neonatal blood culture bottles need to be validated for blood volumes below 0.5 ml.

  • blood cultures
  • septicaemia
  • coagulase negative staphylococci

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