The formation of biofilms in the endotracheal tubes (ETTs) of intubated patients on mechanical ventilation is associated with a greater risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia and death. New technologies are needed to detect and monitor ETTs in vivo for the presence of these biofilms. Longitudinal OCT imaging was performed in mechanically ventilated subjects at 24-hour intervals until extubation to detect the formation and temporal changes of in vivo ETT biofilms. OCT-derived attenuation coefficient images were used to differentiate between mucus and biofilm. Extubated ETTs were examined with optical and electron microscopy, and all imaging results were correlated with standard-of-care clinical test reports. OCT and attenuation coefficient images from four subjects were positive for ETT biofilms and were negative for two subjects. The processed and stained extubated ETTs and clinical reports confirmed the presence/absence of biofilms in all subjects. Our findings confirm that OCT can detect and differentiate between biofilm-positive and biofilm-negative groups (P < 10−5). OCT image-based features may serve as biomarkers for direct in vivo detection of ETT biofilms and help drive investigation of new management strategies to reduce the incidence of VAP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere201800307
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • attenuation coefficient image
  • biofilm
  • endotracheal tube
  • optical coherence tomography
  • ventilator-associated pneumonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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