Is prolonged incubation required for optimal recovery of Burkholderia cepacia complex in sputum from cystic fibrosis patients? Data versus dogma

Syeda Naqvi, Hemalatha Varadhan, Rodney Givney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cystic fibrosis (CF) expert groups globally recommend using selective medium for isolation of Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) from respiratory specimens of CF patients. However, there is no consensus available for optimal duration of incubation and recommendations are variable. The purpose of our study was to compare the difference in recovery of BCC in CF samples at 48 hours versus 7 days when inoculated on Burkholderia cepacia selective agar. A total of 307 consecutive clinical respiratory specimens from our local CF unit were studied prospectively (August 2017 to December 2017). All specimens were inoculated on Burkholderia cepacia medium, containing polymyxin B, gentamicin and ticarcillin. In our laboratory, these plates are routinely incubated for 48 hours as per the manufacturer's recommendation. However, for this study all plates with no growth at 48 hours were further incubated for total of 7 days at 35°C in O2. Plates were read daily to look for any growth. Microbial identification was performed using MALDI-TOF Vitek MS (database V3.0). Of the 307 CF respiratory specimens cultured, 177 (58%) were from paediatric and 130 (42%) were from adult patients; 155 (50%) specimens were sputum, 148 (48%) were cough swabs and four (1%) were bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). All specimens from adults were sputum except one BAL. Thirteen (4%) cultures from eight adult and five paediatric specimens grew BCC. The majority (294, 96%) of specimens had no growth when incubated for 7 days. All 13 positive isolates recovered within 48 hours and there were no additional positive isolates found beyond 48 hours of incubation. We conclude from our analysis that prolonged incubation is not warranted for recovery of BCC in CF specimens if selective medium containing gentamicin and polymyxin is used. By adopting this approach of non-extended incubation, the burden of work on laboratory personnel can be significantly reduced and much faster turnaround time for CF cultures achieved. Our study confirms the results of recently published data on this point and challenges the prevailing dogma of utility of extended incubation for BCC isolation. For devising consensus statements for microbiology laboratories on this issue, CF societies and expert groups should consider reviewing data from the recent studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-369
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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