Little Utility of Fungal Blood Cultures in Surgical and Burn Intensive Care Units

Jacqueline Babb, Audra Clark, Donna Gaffney, Kareem Abdelfattah, Bonnie C. Prokesch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Critically ill patients are at risk for fungal infections, but there is a paucity of data regarding the clinical utility of dedicated fungal blood cultures to detect such infections. A retrospective review was conducted of patients admitted to the surgical and burn intensive care units at Parkland Memorial Hospital between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2017 for whom blood cultures (aerobic, anaerobic, and/or fungal cultures) were sent. A total of 1,094 aerobic and anaerobic blood culture sets and 523 fungal blood cultures were sent. Of the aerobic and anaerobic culture sets, 42/1,094 (3.8%) were positive for fungal growth. All fungal species cultured were Candida. Of the fungal blood cultures, 4/523 (0.76%) were positive for growth. Fungal species isolated included Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Histoplasma capsulatum. All 4 patients with positive fungal blood cultures were on empirical antifungal therapy prior to results, and the antifungal regimen was changed for 1 patient based on culture data. The average duration to final fungal culture result was 46 days, while the time to preliminary results varied dramatically. Two of the four patients died prior to fungal culture results, thereby rendering the culture data inconsequential in patient care decisions. This study demonstrates that regular aerobic and anaerobic blood cultures sets are sufficient in detecting the most common causes of fungemia and that results from fungal cultures rarely impact treatment management decisions in patients in surgical and burn intensive care units. There is little clinical utility to routine fungal cultures in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • ICU
  • blood culture
  • candidemia
  • critical care
  • fungemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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