The anaerobic blood culture (AN) bottle is routinely used in Japan with little discussion as to its justification or validity. We retrospectively studied the AN bottle yield of obligate anaerobes and the characteristics of, and potential risk factors in, patients with anaerobic bacteremia during a 2-year period (1999–2000) at four university hospitals and one community hospital. Thirty-four of 18310 aerobic and anaerobic blood culture sets from 6215 patients taken at the university hospitals, and 35 of 2464 samples taken from 838 patients at the community hospital, yielded obligate anaerobes. Bacteroides species and Clostridium species accounted for 60% of the isolates. Fifty-seven patients from 69 blood culture sets containing anaerobes had clinically significant anaerobic bacteremia. Among these 57 patients, 24 (49%) were oncology patients, 40 (70%) had an obvious source of anaerobic infection, 15 (26%) had recent surgery and/or were in an immunosuppressed state. We concluded that the recovery rate of obligate anaerobes isolated from AN bottles was low, and the patients with anaerobic bacteremia had limited number of underlying diseases or potential risk factors for anaerobic infections. Therefore, anaerobic blood cultures may be selectively used according to the potential risk for anaerobic infections.
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