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Comparison of the BACTEC MGIT 960 and ESP Culture System II for Growth and Detection of Mycobacteria

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Mycobacteriology And Aerobic Actinomycetes


The performances of two continuously monitoring mycobacterial culture systems—ESP Culture System II (ESP II; Trek Diagnostics, Inc., Westlake, Ohio) and BACTEC MGIT 960 (BD Biosciences, Sparks, Md.)—were compared. In addition to both liquid media, all specimens were plated onto Middlebrook 7H11/7H11 selective agar. A total of 3,151 specimens of all types (56.3% were respiratory specimens) were cultured; 231 (7.3%) yielded mycobacteria. The most common species recovered were Mycobacterium avium complex (69 isolates) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC; 65 isolates). The recovery rates for ESP II, BACTEC MGIT 960, and Middlebrook agar, respectively, were 71.2, 63.9, and 61.8% for all mycobacteria; 70.2, 72.6, and 66.3% for all mycobacteria except Mycobacterium gordonae; and 73.8, 84.6, and 87.7% for MTBC. For liquid plus solid medium combinations, recovery rates for all mycobacteria and for MTBC, respectively, were 84.1 and 92.3% for ESP II plus Middlebrook agar and 81.5 and 98.5% for BACTEC MGIT 960 plus Middlebrook agar. The differences in recovery of all mycobacteria by ESP II and by BACTEC MGIT 960 were not significant; for the individual species, the only significant difference was recovery of more isolates of M. gordonae by ESP II. For those isolates recovered in both automated systems, mean times to detection of all mycobacteria and MTBC, respectively, were 15.8 and 17.4 days for ESP II and 12.5 and 11.9 days for BACTEC MGIT 960 (P < 0.05). False-positive signals occurred with 23 (0.7%) BACTEC MGIT 960 cultures and 84 (2.7%) ESP II cultures (P < 0.01). Overall contamination rates were 17.1% for BACTEC MGIT 960, 18.9% for ESP II, and 11.0% for Middlebrook agar. In summary, the ESP II and BACTEC MGIT 960 systems performed comparably with regard to growth and detection of mycobacteria, and the contamination rates were similar. However, with ESP II, times to detection of all mycobacteria and of MTBC were significantly longer, the recovery rate of M. gordonae was significantly higher, and the number of false-positive signals was greater than with BACTEC MGIT 960.

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