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Developing a real time sensing system to monitor bacteria in wound dressings

Farrow, Malcolm and Hunter, Iain. S. and Connolly, Patricia (2012) Developing a real time sensing system to monitor bacteria in wound dressings. Biosensors, 2 (2). pp. 171-188. ISSN 2079-6374

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Abstract

Infection control is a key aspect of wound management strategies. Infection results in chemical imbalances and inflammation in the wound and may lead to prolonged healing times and degradation of the wound surface. Frequent changing of wound dressings may result in damage to healing tissues and an increased risk of infection. This paper presents the first results from a monitoring system that is being developed to detect presence and growth of bacteria in real time. It is based on impedance sensors that could be placed at the wound-dressing interface and potentially monitor bacterial growth in real time. As wounds can produce large volumes of exudate, the initial system reported here was developed to test for the presence of bacteria in suspension. Impedance was measured using disposable silver-silver chloride electrodes. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus were chosen for the study as a species commonly isolated from wounds. The growth of bacteria was confirmed by plate counting methods and the impedance data were analysed for discernible differences in the impedance profiles to distinguish the absence and/or presence of bacteria. The main findings were that the impedance profiles obtained by silver-silver chloride sensors in bacterial suspensions could detect the presence of high cell densities. However, the presence of the silver-silver chloride electrodes tended to inhibit the growth of bacteria. These results indicate that there is potential to create a real time infection monitor for wounds based upon impedance sensing.