In vitro effect of ultrasound on bacteria and suggested protocol for sonication and diagnosis of prosthetic infections

J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Aug;47(8):2496-501. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02316-08. Epub 2009 Jun 17.


Sonication of implants has been shown to be a promising method for diagnosis of prosthetic infections due to its improved sensitivity, simplicity, and low cost. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of ultrasound performed under different conditions regarding temperature, duration, and composition of sonication tubes on bacterial species often associated with prosthetic infections. We found that ultrasound had an inhibitory effect on bacteria, of which gram-negative bacteria, in particular Escherichia coli, were almost eradicated after 5 min of sonication at 35 degrees C. Gram-positive bacteria were found to be resistant to the effect of ultrasound. Four factors were important for the inhibitory effect of sonication: the type of microorganism, the temperature of the sonication buffer, the duration of exposure to ultrasound (minutes), and the material and composition of the sonication tube in which sonication is performed. On the basis of the results from the present study, we propose a protocol for sonication and recovery of bacteria associated with biofilm on infected implants prior to conventional culture. From the present protocol, we recommend sonication for 7 min at 22 degrees C at the maximum effect which permits survival of gram-negative bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Viability*
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / diagnosis
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Sonication / methods*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors