Imaging for Infection: From Visualization of Inflammation to Visualization of Microbes.

Surgical infections

PubMedID: 25402672

Ady J, Fong Y. Imaging for Infection: From Visualization of Inflammation to Visualization of Microbes. Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2014;.
Abstract Background: With the development of high-resolution cross-sectional imaging, anatomic identification of most areas of infection has become routine. Imaging a site of infection allows for diagnosis and treatment. In the past, molecular imaging for infection involved mainly the use of radiolabeled leukocytes for functional targeting at infection sites. With the recent development of functional nuclear imaging, bacterial and viral metabolism can also be imaged directly for potential identification of early infection. Methods: Review of pertinent English-language literature. Results: Cross-sectional imaging is used routinely to identify and treat sources of infection in patients with fever, leukocytosis, or unexplained hemodynamic instability. Although ultrasound is preferred for the identification of biliary or hepatic sepsis, computed tomography (CT) has proved to be accurate for the identification and treatment of intra-abdominal fluid collections and abscesses. Biologic imaging is a non-invasive technique that identifies sites of infection in cases in which no definite abnormality is identified via cross-sectional imaging. This is made possible by imaging the accumulation of radioisotopes that have been attached to white blood cells or glucose. Biologic imaging is useful for the identification of anatomic sites where there is inflammation or high metabolic demand. However, a drawback of biologic imaging is that it is not specific for infection. Techniques that image microbes directly increase the specificity of imaging results significantly and can be used to quantify and track infectious processes. For example, radiolabeling of antimicrobial proteins and antibiotics is one technique that has been demonstrated to identify areas of infection accurately in animals but is not currently being used clinically in humans. With the advent of gene therapy, many researchers are inserting the herpes viral thymidine kinase gene into both viruses and bacteria. This allows for tracking of the infectious process by imaging the accumulation of radiolabeled thymidine analogues. Conclusion: This review summarizes standard imaging for infection as it is currently practiced clinically. We will also explore the promising new methods of microbial imaging that are likely to become standards in clinical care in the near future.