Microbiology of diabetic foot infections: From Louis Pasteur to 'crime scene investigation'

Anne Spichler, Bonnie L. Hurwitz, David G. Armstrong, Benjamin A. Lipsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Were he alive today, would Louis Pasteur still champion culture methods he pioneered over 150 years ago for identifying bacterial pathogens? Or, might he suggest that new molecular techniques may prove a better way forward for quickly detecting the true microbial diversity of wounds? As modern clinicians faced with treating complex patients with diabetic foot infections (DFI), should we still request venerated and familiar culture and sensitivity methods, or is it time to ask for newer molecular tests, such as 16S rRNA gene sequencing? Or, are molecular techniques as yet too experimental, non-specific and expensive for current clinical use? While molecular techniques help us to identify more microorganisms from a DFI, can they tell us 'who done it?', that is, which are the causative pathogens and which are merely colonizers? Furthermore, can molecular techniques provide clinically relevant, rapid information on the virulence of wound isolates and their antibiotic sensitivities? We herein review current knowledge on the microbiology of DFI, from standard culture methods to the current era of rapid and comprehensive 'crime scene investigation' (CSI) techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2015


  • Diabetic foot infection
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular diagnostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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