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Blood Test Detects 5 Pathogens Faster Than Cultures

New test detect bloodstream infections in as little as three hours

by Dennis Ernst • September 11, 2019

Phlebotomy News

A blood test that can detect bloodstream infections in as little as three hours has recently received FDA approval.

The T2Bacteria panel (T2 Biosystems, Lexington, MA) identifies five organisms known to cause sepsis directly from whole blood but without the incubation times required by traditional blood cultures. In three-to-five hours, the panel can detect five organisms commonly associated with antibiotic-resistance and often referred to by the acronym ESKAPE: Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp.

According to the study, the panel had an overall sensitivity of 89.7% per patient and per assay and a sensitivity of 89.5% per patient and 97.8% per assay. The study involved more than 1400 adult patients at 11 academic medical centers across the United States, and was funded by T2 Biosystems, manufacturer of the panel.

An editorial published in a later issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine questioned the limitations of the panel and its clinical utility, however. The authors cited the low prevalence of positive blood cultures, collection of a single set of culture specimens for comparison, and the inability of the panel to detect other pathogens. The editorial questioned whether the panel adds value to the management of suspected septic patients and suggested further research is necessary to see if its use expedites antibiotic therapy and its effect on the duration of therapy, the patient's length of stay, and how its use impacts patient outcomes, laboratory workflows, and cost.

Read the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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