Bacteremia (also bacteraemia) is the presence of bacteria in the blood. Blood is normally a sterile environment, so the detection of bacteria in the blood (most commonly accomplished by blood cultures) is always abnormal. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream as a severe complication of infections (like pneumonia or meningitis), during surgery (especially when involving mucous membranes such as the gastrointestinal tract), or due to catheters and other foreign bodies entering the arteries or veins (including during intravenous drug abuse). Bacteremia can have several consequences. The immune response to the bacteria can cause sepsis and septic shock, which has a relatively high mortality rate. Bacteria can also use the blood to spread to other parts of the body (which is called hematogenous spread), causing infections away from the original site of infection. Examples include endocarditis or osteomyelitis. Treatment is with antibiotics, and prevention with antibiotic prophylaxis can be given in situations where problems are to be expected.
Synonyms: Unspecified bacteremia, Bacteremia, NOS, bacteraemia, Unspecified bacteremia (context-dependent category), Bacteremia NOS (disorder), Bacteremia (disorder), Unspecified bacteraemia, bacteremia