Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 1, 2008

Methods for the detection of bacterial contamination in blood products

Thomas H. Müller, Harald Mohr and Thomas Montag


Culture-based and molecular assays have been developed for the screening of platelet concentrates and other blood components for bacterial contaminations. In this review, the principles of the assays are outlined.

The focus of this review is the assessment of the analytical qualities of the methods. Spiking studies by adding defined levels of a wide range of bacteria to the complex biological matrix provide the first basis to evaluate and compare the qualities of methods for bacterial detection. The sensitivity acceptable for reliable screening for bacteria critically depends on the timing of either early sampling (within a period of up to 24 h after preparation of the blood component) or late sampling (a few hours before issuing the blood component). Large screening studies are essential to confirm both adequate sensitivity and specificity of the testing. In the ideal setting, these studies are prospectively planned and include systematic surveillance of adverse events in response to the administration of the screened products. The findings from sterility testing (predominantly with automated systems for detection of bacteria based on CO2 generation) of more than 550,000 platelet concentrates in 13 studies are summarised. The limitations of the early sampling and the “negative-to-date” strategy to issue platelet concentrates are addressed. A few reported cases of probable transmission of bacteria by platelet transfusion despite negative screening tests emphasise the need to further develop optimised methods for testing of bacteria blood components.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2008;46:933–46.

Corresponding author: Priv.-Doz. Dr. Thomas H. Müller, DRK – Blutspendedienst NSTOB, Eldagsener Str. 38, 31832 Springe, Germany Phone: +49-5041-772-226, Fax: +49-5041-772-144,

Published Online: 2008-07-01
Published in Print: 2008-07-01

©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York