Identification of bacteria by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is known to be more sensitive than culture, which brings to question the clinical applicability of the results. In this study, we evaluate the ability of PCR to detect clinically relevant bacterial species in lower extremity wound infections requiring operative debridement, as well as the quantitative change in biodiversity and bacterial load reflected by PCR during the course of treatment. Thirty-four infected lower extremity were examined by analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA subunit and by culture. McNemar's test was used to measure the concordance of clinically relevant bacterial species identified by PCR compared to culture during each debridement. Change in wound biodiversity from initial presentation to final closure was evaluated by Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Kaplan-Meier survival curve was used to characterize change in measured bacterial load over the course of operative debridement. A total of 15 and 12 clinically relevant bacterial species were identified by PCR and culture, respectively. The most common bacterial species identified were Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterococcus spp. PCR was less likely to detect Enterococcus spp. on initial debridement and Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus on closure in this study population. A significant decrease in mean number of clinically relevant species detected from initial debridement to closure was reflected by culture (p =.0188) but not by PCR (p =.1848). Both PCR (p =.0128) and culture (p =.0001) depicted significant reduction in mean bacterial load from initial debridement to closure. PCR is able to identify common clinically relevant bacterial species in lower extremity surgical wound infections. PCR displays increased sensitivity compared to culture with relation to detection of biodiversity, rather than bacterial load. Molecular diagnostics and conventional culture may serve a joint purpose to assist with rendering clinical judgment in complex wound infections.
- diabetic limb salvage
- polymerase chain reaction
- wound care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine