Anaerobic Conditions Monitor – The Educational Benefits

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Anaerobic Conditions Monitor – The Educational Benefits

Feedback from our customers is always important and we have recently received some very interesting information on how having a Whitley Anaerobic Conditions Monitor (ACM) on your workstation is helping laboratory staff to work more efficiently and effectively, and therefore making a significant contribution to Lean practices.

It appears that the ACM is helping to educate laboratory staff in best practice for anaerobic incubation, not only by helping to organise workflow for significant time saving improvements but helping to reduce gas usage and therefore costs.

One customer found that they were getting a yellow alert every time they introduced a new batch of discard containers to the workstation and began to remove the lids. They quickly realised that if they removed the lids before commencing an airlock cycle, it would ensure that any atmospheric oxygen trapped inside the sample bottles would not be transferred into the workstation chamber.

Although it is always good practice to use control organisms in anaerobic microbiology, with real time monitoring on the ACM there is no longer a need to rely solely on your controls and have to wait 24 hours to ensure optimum conditions. With the ACM a laboratory can immediately see if there is a problem with the anaerobic conditions and take action to rectify it, if necessary. For example, if someone has inadvertently left a porthole door open, the ACM will alert you to a problem and you can quickly close the door.

Some laboratories have found that using the ACM actually reduces the need for repeat sampling because of a loss of anaerobic conditions. Another saving of time and money and of distress to any patient who has to wait longer for their diagnosis or suffer having to provide a new sample. The more streamlined the process of sample collection, incubation, diagnosis and treatment, the less time a patient needs to remain in hospital.

How the ACM works

While the period of time for which strictly anaerobic bacteria can tolerate exposure to air (20 – 21% v/v oxygen) may be relatively short (5 minutes to several hours) our experiments  have demonstrated that exposure to low oxygen concentrations can be tolerated for longer periods: for example, many anaerobic species with human clinical significance will grow normally during 24 hour incubation in the presence of 0.2% v/v to 0.5% v/v oxygen and even the more “strict” anaerobes can survive exposure to such concentrations for shorter periods.

The oxygen concentration thresholds applied in the Whitley Anaerobic Conditions Monitor to produce green, yellow and red indications have been selected on the basis of this knowledge of bacterial oxygen tolerance, combined with performance data collected from a Whitley A35 workstation during normal use. Thus, the colour indications correspond to the following conditions:

• GREEN – Measured oxygen concentration is less than 0.1% v/v. It is important to note that in normal use, when good practices are followed by the operator, oxygen concentration will be substantially below 0.01% v/v (100 parts per million).

• YELLOW – Measured oxygen concentration is greater than 0.1% v/v but less than 0.5% v/v. A correctly functioning workstation should return to the green indication within approximately 15 – 30 minutes.

• RED – Measured oxygen concentration is greater than 0.5% v/v. A correctly functioning workstation should not display this indication for longer than 30 minutes. A prolonged red indication could indicate a fault with the workstation’s atmospheric control systems (gas supply or functioning of the catalyst) and might affect growth of the most oxygen-sensitive bacterial species.

On units produced from June 2012 onwards the following feature is also present:- If the RED indication is displayed for more than 30 minutes an audible alarm will be sounded in a pulsing mode – 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. This will cease when the RED indication is no longer present.

Can you afford NOT to have an ACM?

There are many things that can affect anaerobic conditions in a workstation chamber, for example incorrect gassing of the sleeves, leaving doors open or running out of gas. In  today’s busy laboratories, with reduced resources and increased time constraints, ensuring your samples are correctly incubated is a must. Many hospitals are now working to Lean principles and customer feedback suggests to us that a device such as the ACM has positive advantages in this respect.

The Whitley Anaerobic Conditions Monitor can be specified on any of the new Whitley Anaerobic (or A Range) Workstations.

For more information about the Whitley Anaerobic Conditions Monitor, please contact us at sales@dwscientific.co.uk. The order code for this product is: A07201.

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