Comparison of an Automated Plate Assessment System (APAS Independence) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Manual Plate Reading of Methicillin-Resistant and Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus CHROMagar Surveillance Cultures

J Clin Microbiol. 2021 Oct 19;59(11):e0097121. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00971-21. Epub 2021 Aug 11.


The automated plate assessment system (APAS Independence; Clever Culture System, Bäch, Switzerland) is an automated imaging station linked with interpretive software that detects target colonies of interest on chromogenic media and sorts samples as negative or presumptive positive. We evaluated the accuracy of the APAS to triage methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and S. aureus cultures using chromogenic medium compared to that by human interpretation. Patient samples collected from the nares on ESwabs were plated onto BD BBL CHROMagar MRSA II and BD BBL CHROMagar Staph aureus and allowed to incubate for 20 to 24 h at 37°C in a non-CO2 incubator. Mauve colonies are suggestive of S. aureus and were confirmed with latex agglutination. Following incubation, samples were first interrogated by APAS before being read by a trained technologist blinded to the APAS interpretation. The triaging by both APAS and the technologists was compared for accuracy. Any discordant results required further analysis by a third reader. Over a 5-month period, 5,913 CHROMagar MRSA cultures were evaluated. Of those, 236 were read as concordantly positive, 5,525 were read as concordantly negative, and 152 required discordant analysis. Positive and negative percent agreements (PPA and NPA, respectively) were 100% and 97.3%, respectively. The APAS detected 5 positive cultures that were missed by manual reading and determined to be true positives. In a separate analysis, 744 CHROMagar Staph aureus plates were read in parallel. Of these, 133 were concordantly positive, 585 were concordantly negative, and 26 required discordant analysis. PPA and NPA were 95.7% and 96.7%, respectively. This study confirmed the high sensitivity of digital image analysis by the APAS Independence such that negative cultures can be reliably reported without technologist intervention (negative predictive values [NPVs] of 100% for CHROMagar MRSA and 99.0% for CHROMagar Staph aureus). Triaging using the APAS Independence may provide great efficiency in a laboratory with high throughput of MRSA and S. aureus surveillance cultures.

Keywords: CHROMagar; MRSA; Staphylococcus aureus; artificial intelligence; automated plate assessment system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Culture Media
  • Humans
  • Methicillin
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Culture Media
  • Methicillin