Updated: 12/8/2018

Bacteroides fragilis

Review Topic
  • A 25-year-old man presents to the emergency room for pain in his right lower quadrant. He was found to have perforated appendicitis and was immediately taken to the operating room for emergent laparoscopic appendectomy. Due to the complexity of the case, the operation was converted to an open appendectomy. Post-operatively, he was put on a 7-day course of clindamycin and returned home. Two days later, he returned to the emergency room for diffuse abdominal pain. A computed tomography (CT) of his abdomen shows a fluid collection at the site of the appendix.
  • Classification
    • Bacteroides fragilis
      • an anaerobic, gram-negative bacillus
      • part of the bacterial flora of the mucous membranes including gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and genitals
      • can cause abscesses at any endogenous site, including central nervous system (CNS), head and neck, abdomen, and pelvis
  • Epidemiology
    • incidence
      • more common in chronic infections
    • risk factors
      • immunocompromised state
      • bad dental hygiene
      • animal bite
      • trauma
      • surgery
  • Pathogenesis
    • susceptible to oxidative damage
    • capsule is antiphagocytic
    • penicillin resistance due to beta-lactamase production
  • CNS infections
    • brain abscess
  • Head and neck infections
    • dental infection
    • retropharyngeal abscess
    • peritonsillar abscess
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Empyema
  • Intra-abdominal infections
    • peritonitis
    • abscess
  • Wound infections
  • Computed tomography (CT)
    • site
      • involved area (i.e., abdomen)
    • indication
      • evaluate for abscess
  • Labs
    • anaerobic culture
  • Making the diagnosis
    • most cases are diagnosed based on clinical findings, imaging, and laboratory studies
  • Necrotizing fasciitis 
    • distinguishing factors
      • often also caused by anaerobic bacteria producing gas
      • infection of fascia and presents with pain out of proportion to exam
  • Management approach
    • the ultimate choice of antibiotic therapy depends on cultured bacteria and its sensitivity profile
    • antibiotics shown below are commonly used against anaerobes
  • Medical
    • metronidazole 
      • indication
        • good activity against anaerobes
        • limited activity against aerobic bacteria
    • clindamycin 
      • indication
        • B. fragilis is becoming increasingly resistant
        • activity against aerobic, gram-positive cocci as well
  • Operative
    • surgical incision and drainage of abscesses
      • indication
        • abscess
  • Death
  • Contiguous spread of infection

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Questions (1)
Lab Values
Blood, Plasma, Serum Reference Range
ALT 8-20 U/L
Amylase, serum 25-125 U/L
AST 8-20 U/L
Bilirubin, serum (adult) Total // Direct 0.1-1.0 mg/dL // 0.0-0.3 mg/dL
Calcium, serum (Ca2+) 8.4-10.2 mg/dL
Cholesterol, serum Rec: < 200 mg/dL
Cortisol, serum 0800 h: 5-23 μg/dL //1600 h:
3-15 μg/dL
2000 h: ≤ 50% of 0800 h
Creatine kinase, serum Male: 25-90 U/L
Female: 10-70 U/L
Creatinine, serum 0.6-1.2 mg/dL
Electrolytes, serum  
Sodium (Na+) 136-145 mEq/L
Chloride (Cl-) 95-105 mEq/L
Potassium (K+) 3.5-5.0 mEq/L
Bicarbonate (HCO3-) 22-28 mEq/L
Magnesium (Mg2+) 1.5-2.0 mEq/L
Estriol, total, serum (in pregnancy)  
24-28 wks // 32-36 wks 30-170 ng/mL // 60-280 ng/mL
28-32 wk // 36-40 wks 40-220 ng/mL // 80-350 ng/mL
Ferritin, serum Male: 15-200 ng/mL
Female: 12-150 ng/mL
Follicle-stimulating hormone, serum/plasma Male: 4-25 mIU/mL
Female: premenopause: 4-30 mIU/mL
midcycle peak: 10-90 mIU/mL
postmenopause: 40-250
pH 7.35-7.45
PCO2 33-45 mmHg
PO2 75-105 mmHg
Glucose, serum Fasting: 70-110 mg/dL
2-h postprandial:<120 mg/dL
Growth hormone - arginine stimulation Fasting: <5 ng/mL
Provocative stimuli: > 7ng/mL
Immunoglobulins, serum  
IgA 76-390 mg/dL
IgE 0-380 IU/mL
IgG 650-1500 mg/dL
IgM 40-345 mg/dL
Iron 50-170 μg/dL
Lactate dehydrogenase, serum 45-90 U/L
Luteinizing hormone, serum/plasma Male: 6-23 mIU/mL
Female: follicular phase: 5-30 mIU/mL
midcycle: 75-150 mIU/mL
postmenopause 30-200 mIU/mL
Osmolality, serum 275-295 mOsmol/kd H2O
Parathyroid hormone, serume, N-terminal 230-630 pg/mL
Phosphatase (alkaline), serum (p-NPP at 30° C) 20-70 U/L
Phosphorus (inorganic), serum 3.0-4.5 mg/dL
Prolactin, serum (hPRL) < 20 ng/mL
Proteins, serum  
Total (recumbent) 6.0-7.8 g/dL
Albumin 3.5-5.5 g/dL
Globulin 2.3-3.5 g/dL
Thyroid-stimulating hormone, serum or plasma .5-5.0 μU/mL
Thyroidal iodine (123I) uptake 8%-30% of administered dose/24h
Thyroxine (T4), serum 5-12 μg/dL
Triglycerides, serum 35-160 mg/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3), serum (RIA) 115-190 ng/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3) resin uptake 25%-35%
Urea nitrogen, serum 7-18 mg/dL
Uric acid, serum 3.0-8.2 mg/dL
Hematologic Reference Range
Bleeding time 2-7 minutes
Erythrocyte count Male: 4.3-5.9 million/mm3
Female: 3.5-5.5 million mm3
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (Westergren) Male: 0-15 mm/h
Female: 0-20 mm/h
Hematocrit Male: 41%-53%
Female: 36%-46%
Hemoglobin A1c ≤ 6 %
Hemoglobin, blood Male: 13.5-17.5 g/dL
Female: 12.0-16.0 g/dL
Hemoglobin, plasma 1-4 mg/dL
Leukocyte count and differential  
Leukocyte count 4,500-11,000/mm3
Segmented neutrophils 54%-62%
Bands 3%-5%
Eosinophils 1%-3%
Basophils 0%-0.75%
Lymphocytes 25%-33%
Monocytes 3%-7%
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin 25.4-34.6 pg/cell
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration 31%-36% Hb/cell
Mean corpuscular volume 80-100 μm3
Partial thromboplastin time (activated) 25-40 seconds
Platelet count 150,000-400,000/mm3
Prothrombin time 11-15 seconds
Reticulocyte count 0.5%-1.5% of red cells
Thrombin time < 2 seconds deviation from control
Plasma Male: 25-43 mL/kg
Female: 28-45 mL/kg
Red cell Male: 20-36 mL/kg
Female: 19-31 mL/kg
Cerebrospinal Fluid Reference Range
Cell count 0-5/mm3
Chloride 118-132 mEq/L
Gamma globulin 3%-12% total proteins
Glucose 40-70 mg/dL
Pressure 70-180 mm H2O
Proteins, total < 40 mg/dL
Sweat Reference Range
Chloride 0-35 mmol/L
Calcium 100-300 mg/24 h
Chloride Varies with intake
Creatinine clearance Male: 97-137 mL/min
Female: 88-128 mL/min
Estriol, total (in pregnancy)  
30 wks 6-18 mg/24 h
35 wks 9-28 mg/24 h
40 wks 13-42 mg/24 h
17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Male: 3.0-10.0 mg/24 h
Female: 2.0-8.0 mg/24 h
17-Ketosteroids, total Male: 8-20 mg/24 h
Female: 6-15 mg/24 h
Osmolality 50-1400 mOsmol/kg H2O
Oxalate 8-40 μg/mL
Potassium Varies with diet
Proteins, total < 150 mg/24 h
Sodium Varies with diet
Uric acid Varies with diet
Body Mass Index (BMI) Adult: 19-25 kg/m2

(M1.MC.75) A 36-year-old male suffered a gun-shot wound to the abdomen that required an emergent exploratory laparotomy to repair and resect damaged portions of the bowel. Four days later, the patient reports increased generalized abdominal pain. His vital signs are as follows: T 38.5, HR 110, BP 110/60, RR 18, SpO2 96%. Physical exam reveals extreme tenderness to palpation of the abdomen as well as rebound tenderness, worse in the bilateral lower quadrants. The abdomen is mildly distended with guarding and decreased bowel sounds. The surgical and bullet-entrance wounds appear intact without any evidence of leakage/drainage, erythema, or warmth. Initial lab-work shows an elevated white blood cell count of 17.1 x 10^9 cells/L. A CT scan of the abdomen shows a 4 cm abscess in the left lower quadrant. Which of the following organisms is the most likely cause of this patient's current presentation? Review Topic

QID: 106739

Pseudomonas aeruginosa




Salmonella enteritidis




Bacteroides fragilis




Enterococcus species




Streptococcus bovis




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