Brief ultrasonication improves detection of biofilm-formative bacteria around a metal implant

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2007 Apr;457:210-3. doi: 10.1097/BLO.0b013e3180312042.


Biofilms are complex microenvironments produced by microorganisms on surfaces. Ultrasonication disrupts biofilms and may make the microorganism or its DNA available for detection. We determined whether ultrasonication could affect our ability to detect bacteria adherent to a metal substrate. A biofilm-formative Staphylococcus aureus strain was used for an in vitro implant infection model (biofilm-formative condition). We used quantitative culture and real time-polymerase chain reaction to determine the influence of different durations of ultrasound on bacterial adherence and viability. Sonication for 1 minute increased the yield of bacteria. Sonication longer than 5 minutes led to fewer bacterial colonies by conventional culture but not by polymerase chain reaction. This suggests short periods of sonication help release bacteria from the metal substrate by disrupting the biofilm, but longer periods of sonication lyse bacteria prohibiting their detection in microbiologic cultures. A relatively short duration of sonication may be desirable for maximizing detection of biofilm-formative bacteria around implants by culture or polymerase chain reaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Microbial Viability
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostheses and Implants / microbiology*
  • Sonication*
  • Stainless Steel
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Time Factors


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Stainless Steel