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Open Access Research

Rapid identification of bacteria and candida using pna-fish from blood and peritoneal fluid cultures: a retrospective clinical study

Dana M Harris1 and D Jane Hata2*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Hospital Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 4500 San Pablo Rd, Jacksonville, Florida, 32224, USA

2 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 4500 San Pablo Rd, Jacksonville, Florida, 32224, USA

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Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials 2013, 12:2  doi:10.1186/1476-0711-12-2

Published: 7 January 2013



Peptide nucleic acid fluorescent in situ hybridization (PNA-FISH) is a rapid and established method for identification of Candida sp., Gram positive, and Gram negative bacteria from positive blood cultures. This study reports clinical experience in the evaluation of 103 positive blood cultures and 17 positive peritoneal fluid cultures from 120 patients using PNA-FISH. Our study provides evidence as to potential pharmaceutical cost savings based on rapid pathogen identification, in addition to the novel application of PNA-FISH to peritoneal fluid specimens.


Identification accuracy and elapsed time to identification of Gram positives, Gram negatives, and Candida sp., isolated from blood and peritoneal fluid cultures were assessed using PNA-FISH (AdvanDx), as compared to standard culture methods. Patient charts were reviewed to extrapolate potential pharmaceutical cost savings due to adjustment of antimicrobial or antifungal therapy, based on identification by PNA-FISH.


In blood cultures, time to identification by standard culture methods for bacteria and Candida sp., averaged 83.6 hours (95% CI 56.7 to 110.5). Identification by PNA-FISH averaged 11.2 hours (95% CI 4.8 to 17.6). Overall PNA-FISH identification accuracy was 98.8% (83/84, 95% CI 93.5% to 99.9%) as compared to culture. In peritoneal fluid, identification of bacteria by culture averaged 87.4 hours (95% CI −92.4 to 267.1). Identification by PNA-FISH averaged 16.4 hours (95% CI −57.3 to 90.0). Overall PNA-FISH identification accuracy was 100% (13/13, 95% CI 75.3% to 100%). For Candida sp., pharmaceutical cost savings based on PNA-FISH identification could be $377.74/day. For coagulase-negative staphylococcus (CoNS), discontinuation of vancomycin could result in savings of $20.00/day.


In this retrospective study, excellent accuracy of PNA-FISH in blood and peritoneal fluids with reduced time to identification was observed, as compared to conventional culture-based techniques. Species-level identification based on PNA-FISH could contribute to notable cost savings due to adjustments in empiric antimicrobial or antifungal therapy as appropriate to the pathogen identified.

PNA-FISH; Blood culture; Bacteremia; Fungemia; Peritoneal fluid