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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Jun;19(6):499-506.

Strategies for the control of catheter encrustation.

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  • 1Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3TL, Wales, UK.


Two general strategies have been adopted to develop catheter materials that resist encrustaion by bacterial biofilms: (a) the incorporation of antimicrobial agents into the polymers and (b) the production of materials with surface properties which prevent the adherence of bacterial cells. Our experience to develop non-adherent surfaces which abstracts design from nature is reported. Compounds based on 2-methacryloloxyethylphosphorylcholine co-polymerised with long-chain alkyl methacrylates have been produced which have structural and surface properties similar to those of the outer membranes of erythrocytes. These PC-coatings have been applied onto catheter base materials where they produce polar surfaces that are extremely hydrophilic. In experiments using a laboratory model of the catheterised bladder we found that the PC-coatings did not reduce colonisation of latex or silicone catheters by crystalline Proteus mirabilis biofilm. There were no significant difference between the amounts of calcium and magnesium salts deposited on coated and non-coated catheters. In a further set of experiments the PC-coatings did not significantly increase the mean times for which catheters drained freely. In a parallel clinical study, the performance of PC-coated ureteral stents was investigated. Scanning electron microscopy and bacteriological analysis on 44 PC-coated stents that had been implanted in patients for 12-week periods and 28 control stents suggested that the PC-coated devices were less vulnerable to encrustation and colonisation by bacterial biofilm than normal stents. It was of interest that in contrast to encrusted catheters, urease producing species such as P. mirabilis were rarely isolated from the stents. The main organisms colonising the stents were enterococci and coagulase-negative staphylococci. These results suggest that the mechanisms of catheter and stent encrustation may be different and require different strategies for control.

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