Utilizing Mass Spectrometry in Clinical Microbiology
According to a recent article in Lab Manager, the most common type of mass spectrometry (MS) used in clinical microbiology is called matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS).
MALDI-TOF MS is a useful approach for identifying colonies of bacteria or fungi. With this technology, the sample is mixed with a matrix and exposed to a laser, which vaporizes and ionizes the sample. The time it takes for the charged particles to reach the detector—the time of flight— depends on their mass-to-charge ratio.
According to Robin Patel, M.D., Chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., “Mass spectrometry is being increasingly used in everyday practice in clinical microbiology.” This is largely due to the speed and accuracy MALDI-TOF MS brings to clinical microbiology.
“You can get the right identification,” said Dr. Patel. The MS output tells you what it is, and very precisely.
Overall, Dr. Patel says, “MALDI-TOF MS is faster and cheaper, and it provides for most organisms—not all—the ability to identify an infectious agent more accurately than anything that we had previously.” She adds, “It has changed our clinical practice.”
Many U.S. laboratories now use MALDI-TOF MS. According to Dr. Patel, “MALDI-TOF MS is an incontrovertibly beneficial technology for the clinical microbiology laboratory.”
- The Effect of MALDI-TOF MS Reagents on Hazardous Bacteria study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, by Robin Patel, M.D., Chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at Mayo Clinic
- MALDI-TOF MS For the Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases review in Clinical Chemistry, by Robin Patel, M.D., Chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at Mayo Clinic