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Digital Scanner Shows if a Wound is Infected

A handheld device can instantly determine the presence of harmful bacteria in a wound

Mary Bates, Contributor
Friday, January 12, 2018


Image courtesy of MolecuLight Inc.


To treat a wound appropriately, you have to know whether it's infected. Delaying treatment of an infected wound can interfere with healing, while the unnecessary use of antibiotics can cause side effects and lead to drug resistance.

But identifying infections promptly can be difficult. Current methods of wound assessment are either inaccurate, like inspecting the wound with the naked eye, or take days to complete, like sending swabs for further testing.

A new device called the MolecuLight i:X shows the presence of bacteria in a wound in real time. Using fluorescence, the device quickly, safely and easily visualizes potentially harmful bacteria, allowing clinicians to choose the right therapy for their patients, according to the researchers.

In a recent study in the Journal of Wound Care, researchers demonstrated the accuracy of the MolecuLight i:X. They showed that when an area scanned by the device lit up as fluorescent red, it always tested positive for bacteria. They detected nine species of bacteria, with Staphylococcus aureus being the most common.

The MolecuLight i:X works by emitting light at 405 nanometers. Bacteria have molecules called porphyrins that fluoresce at this wavelength. When the device is held over a patient’s wound, the screen shows an image with areas of glowing red where certain bacteria are present.

The MolecuLight i:X is currently available in Canada and the European Union; regulatory clearance in the U.S. is pending.