Real-time imaging and quantification of bioluminescent bacteria in root canals in vitro

Christine Sedgley, Bruce Applegate, Aaron Nagel, Dan Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The detection of microorganisms in root canals is generally limited to qualitative or semiquantitative methods. We describe a new and nondestructive in vitro method to quantify root-canal bacteria over sequential treatment procedures using real-time imaging in conjunction with the bioluminescent reporter strain Pseudomonas fluorescens 5RL. Induced bacterial photon emission can be monitored by sensitive optical photonic imaging and luminometry, providing images as well as spatial and quantitative measurements. Bioluminescence imaging and luminometry determined that the lower limit of detection of bacteria in root canals occurred between 2 × 102 and 2 × 103 cells, with high correlation between cell counts and detection devices (r ≥ 0.981). A preliminary study assessed the efficacy of sequential irrigation procedures to remove 5 × 106 bacteria from root canals (n = 5; apical size 60) using a 28-gauge, endodontic needle positioned 1 mm from working length; 9.2% ± 3.1% and 8% ± 3.6% of bacteria remained after 3 and 6 ml irrigation, respectively (p = 0.03), corresponding to approximately 4 × 105 bacteria remaining after 6 ml. This method can be used to study the efficacy of sequential endodontic treatment procedures in removing bacteria from root canals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-898
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of endodontics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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