Week 4 of the Kiestra TLA at the lab I work in. Things are starting to settle, routines are being adopted, and life is becoming boring again!
One thing I have been thinking about though, is whether contamination rates will be lower for sterile site samples, and in particular for orthopaedic samples, which often get prolonged incubation periods in the laboratory. It is not something that is talked about much when one listens to the company reps about the pros and cons of smart incubators, but there are good theoretical reasons why this might be the case.
Think about the traditional way of plate inspection. The plates are handled by human hands day after day, the plate lids removed for anything up to a couple of minutes, breathed on and occasionally coughed or sneezed on… It is actually quite an achievement to incubate a plate for 10 days without getting a contaminant somewhere along the line!
Then think about how these plates are handled by Kiestra. The plates rarely, if ever come into human contact. The lids are only removed for a few seconds in a Hepa-filtered environment for imaging.
It would be difficult, but not impossible to perform a trial to prove this hypothesis. The main difficulty is in deciding what is regarded as a contaminant and what is not. Hopefully someone will do it however.
Obviously not much can be done (in the lab) about contamination of the sample at time of sampling (in theatre etc.) but I would like to think that the (laboratory) contamination rates will be less.
And when I think about how many orthopaedic patients worldwide that are likely to have been overtreated because of plate contaminants, that cannot be a bad thing…