In vivo detection of Staphylococcus aureus in biofilm on vascular prostheses using non-invasive biophotonic imaging

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2011 Jan;41(1):68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2010.09.007. Epub 2010 Oct 12.


Objectives: Biophotonic imaging was compared to standard enumeration method both for counting Staphylococcus aureus in biofilm and bacterial susceptibility tests of different graft materials.

Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled animal study.

Material and methods: Five types of vascular grafts were placed subcutaneously in 35 mice and challenged with bioluminescent S. aureus. The mice were divided into equal groups as follows: group A (polyester), group B (polytetrafluoroethylene), group C and D (two types of silver acetate-coated polyester) and group E (bovine pericardium). Controls were given only the bacteria. The bioluminescence signal of S. aureus, able to predict number of viable bacteria in biofilm without any manipulation, was measured at different time points. Five days postinfection, regular cultures of adherent bacteria on grafts were obtained. Comparative analyses between bioluminescence activity and culture enumeration were performed.

Results: The number of viable bacteria on silver-coated prostheses was the slightest, indicating superior bacterial resistance. The density of bacteria on polytetrafluoroethylene and polyester was comparable, with a non-significant advantage for polytetrafluoroethylene. Moreover, bioluminescence detected the number of viable S. aureus in biofilm more exactly compared to enumeration of bacteria.

Conclusion: Bioluminescence imaging can be considered a useful tool to characterize susceptibility of any graft material to bacterial biofilm prior to implantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates
  • Animals
  • Biofilms*
  • Bioprosthesis
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis / microbiology*
  • Cattle
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Mice
  • Microbial Viability
  • Pericardium
  • Photons*
  • Polyesters
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / diagnosis*
  • Random Allocation
  • Silver Compounds
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*


  • Acetates
  • Polyesters
  • Silver Compounds
  • silver acetate
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene