Methods in Molecular Biology Volume 1147, 2014, pp 105-126
Date: 05 Mar 2014

Imaging Bacteria and Biofilms on Hardware and Periprosthetic Tissue in Orthopedic Infections

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Infection is a major complication of total joint arthroplasty (TJA) surgery, and even though it is now as low as 1 % in some hospitals, the increasing number of primary surgeries translates to tens of thousands of revisions due to prosthetic joint infection (PJI). In many cases the only solution is revision surgery in which the hardware is removed. This process is extremely long and painful for patients and is a considerable financial burden for the health-care system. A significant proportion of the difficulties in diagnosis and treatment of PJI are associated with biofilm formation where bacteria attach to the surface of the prosthesis and periprosthetic tissue and build a 3-D biofilm community encased in an extracellular polymeric slime (EPS) matrix. Bacteria in biofilms have a low metabolic rate which is thought to be a major contributor to their recalcitrance to antibiotic treatment. The diagnosis of biofilm infections is difficult due to the fact that bacteria in biofilms are not readily cultured with standard clinical microbiology techniques. To identify and visualize in situ biofilm bacteria in orthopedic samples, we have developed protocols for the collection of samples in the operating room, for molecular fluorescent staining with 16S rRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and for imaging of samples using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Direct imaging is the only method which can definitively identify biofilms on implants and complements both culture and culture-independent diagnostic methods.