MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for the rapid identification of aetiological agents of sepsis

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Roberto Degl’Innocenti
Tamara Brunelli *
Loredana Ortega De Luna
Patrizia Miglietta
Mayra Sosa
Antonella Conti
Patrizia Casprini
(*) Corresponding Author:
Tamara Brunelli |


Introduction: The MALDI-TOF has recently become part of the methods of microbiological investigation in many laboratories of bacteriology with advantages both practical and economical.The use of this technique for the rapid identification of the causative agents of sepsis is of strategic importance to the ability to provide the clinician with useful information for a prompt and rapid establishment of an empirical antimicrobial “targeted” therapy. Methods: It was tested a total of 343 positive blood culture bottles from 211 patients. The samples after collection were incubated in the BACTEC FX (Becton Dickinson, USA). From these bottles were taken a few milliliters of broth culture and transferred into a vacutainer tube containing gel. This was centrifuged, the supernatant was decanted, and finally recovered the bacterial suspension on the gel. With micro-organisms recovered in this way, after several washes with distilled water, was prepared a slide for microscopic examination with Gram stain, and a plate for mass spectrometry (MS-Vitek, bioMérieux, France).Then, the same samples were inoculated on solid agar media according to the protocol in use in our laboratory.The next day was checked the possible bacterial growth on solid media; we then proceeded to the identification of the colonies by Vitek MS and / or with the system Vitek2 (bioMérieux, France). Results: 258 (75.2%) positive vials show concordant results between direct identification and identification after growth on agar. For 83 (24.2%) positive bottles there has been full compliance with the microscopic examination but not with culture. In particular, two bottles (0.6%) have given complete discordance between the direct identification and that after growth. Conclusions: The protocol we use for the direct identification of organisms responsible for sepsis, directly on positive bottles, seems to be a quick and inexpensive procedure, which in less than 60 minutes can give valuable feedback to the clinician.


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