Image-guided in situ detection of bacterial biofilms in a human prosthetic knee infection model: a feasibility study for clinical diagnosis of prosthetic joint infections

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Purpose Due to an increased human life expectancy, the need to replace arthritic or dysfunctional joints by prosthetics is higher than ever before. Prosthetic joints are unfortunately inherently susceptible to bacterial infection accompanied by biofilm formation. Accurate and rapid diagnosis is vital to increase therapeutic success. Yet, established diagnostic modalities cannot directly detect bacterial biofilms on prostheses. Therefore, the present study was aimed at investigating whether arthroscopic optical imaging can accurately detect bacterial biofilms on prosthetic joints.

Methods Here, we applied a conjugate of the antibiotic vancomycin and the near-infrared fluorophore IRDye800CW, in short vanco-800CW, in combination with arthroscopic optical imaging to target and visualize biofilms on infected prostheses.

Results We show in a human post-mortem prosthetic knee infection model that a staphylococcal biofilm is accurately detected in real time and distinguished from sterile sections in high resolution. In addition, we demonstrate that biofilms associated with the clinically most relevant bacterial species can be detected using vanco-800CW.

Conclusion The presented image-guided arthroscopic approach provides direct visual diagnostic information and facilitates immediate appropriate treatment selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757–767
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Early online date8-Sep-2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2021


  • Infection imaging
  • Prosthetic joint
  • Biofilm
  • Optical tracer
  • Fluorescence

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