Blood cultures: Key elements for best practices and future directions

Stefan Riedel, Karen C. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Bloodstream infections (BSI) cause significant morbidity and mortality among populations worldwide. Blood cultures (BCs) are regarded as the "gold standard" for diagnosis of bacteremia and are among the most important functions of the clinical microbiology laboratory. Significant changes in the methods and techniques of obtaining BCs have occurred since the first inception of BCs into clinical practice. Aside from significant improvements of established, conventional technology, new assays for diagnosis of bacteremia and fungemia, particularly those involving molecular techniques, are now available. BCs must be collected under sterile conditions and guidelines for appropriate collection, processing, and results reporting of BCs have been established. This review provides comprehensive information on optimal BC practices for laboratories, utilizing traditional approaches and emerging technology. As laboratories and clinicians must appreciate the key factors affecting the use of these techniques, improved communication between laboratory personnel and clinicians regarding such elements as duration of incubation, workup of contaminants and critical action value reporting will greatly improve the diagnostic approach to BSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-316
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Infection and Chemotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Aerobic and anaerobic blood cultures
  • Bacteremia
  • Blood culture
  • Blood culture contamination
  • Blood culture volume
  • Nucleic acid amplification testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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