Current standard diagnostic practice of bacterial infections by visual inspection under white light is subjective, and microbiological sampling is suboptimal due to high false negative rates and the lengthy time needed for culture results to arrive. The MolecuLight i:X Imaging Device attempts to combat the issues faced in standard practice by providing a non-contact, real-time method of visualising bacteria within wounds. Our aim was to test this imaging device in a series of patients.
A single-centre prospective observational study was conducted in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. During Plastic Surgery Outpatient dressings clinics, patients had their wounds photographed with the imaging device under white light and violet light illumination. Microbiological swabs were obtained of all the wounds. Any clinical signs and symptoms of infection were noted. White light and violet light photographs were compared with correlate visible clinical signs and symptoms with auto-fluorescence images. Auto-fluorescence images were then compared with the microbiological swab results to discern any differences.
There were 14 patients with seventeen separate wounds imaged. Of the 17, eight wounds were positive for bacterial growth on microbiological culture. All eight of these were detected positive for bacteria according to auto-fluorescence imaging. There was one wound was detected positive for bacteria by auto-fluorescence imaging with negative microbiological results.
This study demonstrated the potential benefit of the imaging device due to the correlation between microbiological test results and auto-fluorescence imaging. The device greatly reduces the time taken waiting for results and it is simple, quick to use and non-contact. There is potential for the imaging device to guide swab sampling and aid health professionals in the diagnosis and management of wound infections.