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Practical Bench Comparison of BBL CHROMagar Orientation and Standard Two-Plate Media for Urine Cultures

  • Holly A. D'Souza
  • Mary Campbell
  • Ellen Jo Baron
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2004


A total of 1,023 urine samples sent for routine culture were plated onto sheep blood and MacConkey agars and a BBL CHROMagar Orientation (CO; Becton Dickinson, Cockeysville, Md.) plate, and the results were compared. Of these, 250 urine samples (24%) grew >10,000 CFU of one or two putative pathogens/ml and 773 showed no growth (NG), mixed growth of <10,000 CFU/ml, or three or more strains (mixed). The CO and conventional medium results agreed completely for 595 cultures with NG or <10,000 CFU/ml. An additional 178 urine samples yielded clinically insignificant differences. Both medium sets essentially agreed on quantities and identification for 400 single-pathogen cultures and 9 mixed cultures. With the caveat that CO cannot differentiate Klebsiella, Enterobacter, and Serratia spp., enteric pathogens were identified only by morphology and color on CO. Direct visual differentiation of group B streptococci from lactobacilli is not possible, but lactobacillus cells always exhibited easily recognizable morphology on Gram stain. Of 108 paired organism susceptibility results encompassing 2,268 drug-pathogen combinations, there were 3% errors and only 1% very major errors. Use of CO allowed a >50% reduction in inoculation time and a >20% reduction in work-up time. For our laboratory, with 50% “no growth” and ca. 25% significant results (50% Escherichia coli), CO allowed time and workup cost savings for a majority of cultures. A cost analysis (time and supplies for our laboratory) showed that if CO is used alone, the break-even level for CO pricing is $1.78; if CO and blood agar are both used, the break-even pricing for CO is $1.53.

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