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Postmortem candidaemia: marker of disseminated disease
  1. Jennifer L Thorn1,
  2. Kevin B Gilchrist1,
  3. Richard E Sobonya1,
  4. Nand K Gaur3,
  5. Peter N Lipke4,
  6. Stephen A Klotz2
  1. 1Department of Pathology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  2. 2Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  3. 3Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  4. 4Department of Biology, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Stephen A Klotz, Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, 1501 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA; sklotz{at}


Aim The significance of finding Candida species in heart blood cultures obtained at postmortem examination has never been studied. This article describes the findings of autopsy patients with postmortem candidaemia and it compares them with findings in autopsy patients with antemortem candidaemia.

Method 23 patients with Candida species isolated from heart blood at autopsy were identified over a 10-year period. These patients were compared with 10 autopsy patients found during the same time period with antemortem blood cultures isolating Candida species, but not positive postmortem heart blood cultures. Antemortem and postmortem records were reviewed.

Results All 23 patients with Candida species isolated from postmortem blood culture had one or more antemortem risk factors for disseminated candidiasis, such as positive antemortem blood cultures, isolation of Candida from sterile internal sites, neutropenia, recent abdominal surgery, broad-spectrum antibiotic administration or the use of central venous catheters or other invasive devices. Eight patients showed histological proof of invasive candidiasis in addition to the positive heart blood cultures. This group did not differ with respect to risk factors from 10 autopsy patients with disseminated candidiasis and antemortem blood cultures with Candida species. However, all the patients with antemortem candidaemia had histological evidence of disseminated candidiasis at autopsy.

Conclusion Candidaemia, when documented by heart blood culture performed at autopsy or by antemortem blood culture, is an insensitive, but highly specific, indicator of disseminated candidiasis.

  • Autopsy
  • blood
  • Candida
  • candidaemia
  • culture
  • disseminated candidiasis
  • fungi
  • postmortem
  • yeast

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.