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Innovations power the IDEXX Microbiology Service

The IDEXX Microbiology Service uses innovative technologies that complement traditional laboratory bench methods to solve microbiology puzzles for IDEXX Reference Laboratories customers. Automated analyzers deliver accurate results quickly, hours or days faster than manual methods, saving valuable time. The proper antimicrobial treatments can begin as soon as possible, reducing illness and limiting the spread of infection, possibly even saving lives. Specialized veterinary testing and rapid reporting of microbiology results benefit patients—through better care, they likely have better outcomes.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF or MALDI) mass spectrometry represents exciting new technology for rapid microbial identifications of over 2,400 species of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and fungi belonging to over 400 genera. MALDI-TOF uses mass spectrometry to measure particles based on their mass-to-charge ratio. To do this, an isolate is exposed to an ion source, which causes a breakdown of the organism into proteins. The resulting proteins are ionized, then separated and detected based on their mass-to-charge ratio. A specific mass spectrum profile is generated for each isolate and compared to a database of unique bacterial mass spectra. Within minutes, clinical isolates, as small as a single colony of either Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria, can be accurately identified. In 2015, IDEXX Reference Laboratories enhanced the microbiology services with the addition of the Bruker MALDI-TOF Biotyper system to allow for more rapid and accurate microbial identification.

Appropriate susceptibility panels are selected based on the organism identification and include antibiotics that are clinically relevant for veterinary patients. The bioMérieux VITEK® 2 automated microbiology analyzer is the IDEXX Microbiology Service’s powerful workhorse, providing rapid and accurate susceptibility testing—the majority of positive cultures are completed and reported in two days. The breakpoint minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values and their corresponding efficacy interpretations—sensitive, intermediate, or resistant—are reported according to the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines for each drug. Knowing the isolate’s susceptibility pattern empowers veterinans to choose the best antibiotic, which will also depend on various patient factors and site of the infection. Learn more about using the MIC to guide your antibiotic choice:

Microbiology guide to interpreting minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)

IDEXX offers specialized antimicrobial susceptibility panels for certain sites, such as ears and eyes, where topical therapies and tissue penetration by antibiotics must be considered, and for use in some exotic species where antibiotic choices may differ. IDEXX customers are encouraged to select the most appropriate microbiology test codes for their patient infections, using the online or paper test directories for guidance, or with input from the IDEXX diagnostic support team or medical consultant.

IDEXX’s investment in the bioMérieux VITEK 2 and the Bruker MALDI-TOF systems offers important benefits to you and your patients: more reliable and accurate microbial identification, identifying organisms to the species level, including many that were previously unknown, and faster turnaround times for bacterial identifications. The IDEXX Microbiology Service is powered up to solve your microbiology challenges faster, so the correct treatments can be initiated sooner, for the prospect of better prognoses.


Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM

posted by Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM

Dr. Celeste Clements graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989, and then spent a year of internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York. After two years of general practice she entered into a clinical residency in small-animal internal medicine at Texas A&M University, which concluded with board certification in 1995. She practiced for five years in referral centers in Maryland and Texas, and then was employed by a veterinary pharmacy. She joined IDEXX as an internal medicine consultant in 2007, and now serves as a medical content specialist on the Medical Affairs team. Her professional interests include renal disease, hematology, immunology, and infectious disease. Celeste lives near Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Mike, daughter Carolina, and a goofy hound dog named Bella who lives to chase squirrels. The local dog park is their new favorite destination.

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