The potential source of CVC colonisation was assessed. Isolates of coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) recovered from the skin and CVC components of 3 cardiothoracic surgery patients were characterised by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The genetic heterogeneity of CoNS isolated from the skin was demonstrated and specific genotypes implicated in catheter colonisation. In addition, phenotypic and genotypic typing techniques were assessed for their ability to characterise strains of CoNS recovered from 33 patients who developed catheter-related bloodstream infection (CR-BSI) on a bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit and Siaphylococcus aureus recovered from 6 cardiothoracic surgery patients with surgical site infection (SSI) following median sternotomy. This epidemiological investigation revealed that common strains of CoNS and 51 aureus where not associated with infection in patients with CR-BSI or sternal SSI during the study period. Furthermore, there was no correlation between phenotypic and genotypic characterisation results. The variable expression of phenotypic traits within strains of staphylococci was evident whilst PFGE and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) were highly discriminatory for the molecular characterisation of S. aureus and CoNS. This was highlighted in 8 stem cell transplant (SCT) patients whereby it was demonstrated that routine identification and characterisation of CoNS by phenotypic techniques may not be adequate for the diagnosis of CR-BSI by current guidelines. The potential of the lipid S ELISA to facilitate the diagnosis of CR-BSI in 38 haematology/SCT patients and sternal SSI in 57 cardiothoracic surgery patients was also assessed. The ELISA proved to be a sensitive test for the rapid serodiagnosis of infection due to staphylococci in immunocompetent patients. The acridine orange leucocyte cytospin test (AOLC) was also evaluated for the rapid diagnosis of CR-BSI in 16 haematology/SCT patients with Hickman CVC in situ. Although the sensitivity of the test was low, it may provide a useful adjunct to conventional methods for the in situ sampling of catheters to predict and diagnose CR-BSI, preventing the unnecessary removal of CVC.
- Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
- randomly amplified polymorphic DNA
- acridine orange leucocyte cytospin
- lipid S ELISA
- needleless connector