Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique for determining the elemental composition of a sample. The MS principle consists of ionizing chemical compounds to generate charged molecules and to measure their mass-to-charge ratio. Such molecular “signatures” can be used for rapid bacterial identification (ID) from isolated colonies. The use of mass spectrometry for bacterial ID is especially suitable and cost-efficient for laboratories with high volumes of samples. Mass spectrometry is not adapted for antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST).
MALDI-TOF technology (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight) used by VITEK® MS examines the patterns of proteins detected directly from intact bacteria. The sample to be analyzed is mixed with another compound, called a matrix. The mixture is applied to a metal platetarget slide and irradiated ionised with a laser. The matrix absorbs the laser light and vaporizes, along with the sample, and in the process gaining gains an electrical charge (ionization). Electrical fields then guide the ions into the time of flight mass spectrometer, ions are separated according to their mass to charge (m/z) ratio, and ultimately the quantity of each ion is measured. Detection is achieved at the end of the flight tube.
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