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Featured Innovation

Diagnostic Technology for Imaging Bacterial Infections

W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD; Mark Goodman, PhD

Bacterial infections are a major cause of death throughout the world, especially in the case of hospital-acquired infections. These types of infections impact millions of people each year and pose challenges in all areas of medicine. As a result, diagnosing whether or not a patient has been infected by bacteria is critical. Currently, there is room for improvement in the method of diagnosis, which is based on the ability to grow the bacteria in a culture in the lab. However, this method can take a longer amount of time than is ideal for patient treatment.

If the patient has a bacterial infection in the muscle, enough of the bacteria must leak into the blood before it can be cultured, isolated and identified. This inherent lag time from infection establishment to diagnosis can pose a significant problem with orthopedic join implants (hip, knee and shoulder) that become infected after surgical placement in the body. In the case of an infection, the transplant must be removed immediately to avoid endangering the life of the patient. However, if the implant is simply inflamed, it can be treated normally and allowed to progress inside the body. Therefore, distinguishing between infection and inflammation is a critical unmet need in the field.


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