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J Clin Pharmacol. 1999 Sep;39(9):887-98.

Microbial biofilms: their development and significance for medical device-related infections.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Microbial adhesion and biofilm formation on medical devices represent a common occurrence that can lead to serious illness and death. The process by which bacteria and yeast colonize open and closed implants is fairly complicated and involves a series of steps commencing with deposition of host substances onto the material. Prevention and treatment of established biofilms with antimicrobial agents are difficult because the organisms are encased within a protected microenvironment. Efforts to reduce adhesion using specially developed materials, such as hydrophilic or heparin coated, have had modest success once applied to the patient. The reason, at least for the most part, is the diverse milieu into which devices are placed and the multitude of ways in which organisms can colonize surfaces. A better understanding of the process is required, and the knowledge gained must be used to devise new strategies as alternatives to the traditional employment of antibiotics. These new approaches may still use antibiotics but at different concentrations (low to prevent and high to treat infection) and in a different manner (perhaps spiked therapy in which there is a delay between doses to reduce the risk of drug resistance and impact on normal flora). The possibility of applying functional foods to patient management should also be pursued.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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