December 18 2017
By Clare Wilson
THE surgeon was poised to carry out a skin graft when he decided to try out an experimental device to check for infection. Called the MolecuLight i:X, it shows the presence of bacteria in real time as an eerie fluorescent glow.
The patient was a 47-year-old man whose leg had been amputated above the knee. He had endured one infection already and the surgeon didn’t want to risk another.
“I was ready to perform surgery on this patient. The wound looked clean,” says Steven Jeffery of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham, UK. One look through the machine, however, and the operation was called off. The wound glowed red at the edge, showing it was riddled with bacteria that would probably have caused the skin graft to fail.