Intra-amniotic infection, defined by the presence of microorganisms in the amniotic cavity, is often accompanied by intra-amniotic inflammation. Occasionally, laboratories report the growth of bacteria or the presence of microbial nucleic acids in amniotic fluid in the absence of intra-amniotic inflammation. This study was conducted to determine the clinical significance of the presence of bacteria in amniotic fluid samples in the absence of intra-amniotic inflammation.
A retrospective cross-sectional study included 360 patients with preterm labor and intact membranes who underwent transabdominal amniocentesis for evaluation of the microbial state of the amniotic cavity as well as intra-amniotic inflammation. Cultivation techniques were used to isolate microorganisms, and broad-range polymerase chain reaction coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS) was utilized to detect the nucleic acids of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Patients whose amniotic fluid samples evinced microorganisms but did not indicate inflammation had a similar perinatal outcome to those without microorganisms or inflammation [amniocentesis-to-delivery interval (p=0.31), spontaneous preterm birth before 34 weeks (p=0.83), acute placental inflammatory lesions (p=1), and composite neonatal morbidity (p=0.8)].
The isolation of microorganisms from a sample of amniotic fluid in the absence of intra-amniotic inflammation is indicative of a benign condition, which most likely represents contamination of the specimen during the collection procedure or laboratory processing rather than early colonization or infection.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.