Differentiation of otitis media-causing bacteria and biofilms via Raman spectroscopy and optical coherence tomography

Andrea K. Locke, Farzana R. Zaki, Sean T. Fitzgerald, Kavya Sudhir, Guillermo L. Monroy, Honggu Choi, Jungeun Won, Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Stephen A. Boppart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the management of otitis media (OM), identification of causative bacterial pathogens and knowledge of their biofilm formation can provide more targeted treatment approaches. Current clinical diagnostic methods rely on the visualization of the tympanic membrane and lack real-time assessment of the causative pathogen(s) and the nature of any biofilm that may reside behind the membrane and within the middle ear cavity. In recent years, optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been demonstrated as an improved in vivo diagnostic tool for visualization and morphological characterization of OM biofilms and middle ear effusions; but lacks specificity about the causative bacterial species. This study proposes the combination of OCT and Raman spectroscopy (RS) to examine differences in the refractive index, optical attenuation, and biochemical composition of Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; four of the leading otopathogens in OM. This combination provides a dual optical approach for identifying and differentiating OM-causing bacterial species under three different in vitro growth environments (i.e., agar-grown colonies, planktonic cells from liquid cultures, and biofilms). This study showed that RS was able to identify key biochemical variations to differentiate all four OM-causing bacteria. Additionally, biochemical spectral changes (RS) and differences in the mean attenuation coefficient (OCT) were able to distinguish the growth environment for each bacterial species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number869761
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
StatePublished - Aug 10 2022


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • bacteria
  • bacterial infection
  • biofilms
  • biophotonics
  • optical coherence tomography
  • optical spectroscopy
  • otitis media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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