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Urology. 1989 Nov;34(5):284-91.

Ultrastructural study of microbiologic colonization of urinary catheters.

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Department of Urology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.


We examined ten urinary catheters, associated with catheter-related urinary tract infections, by scanning and transmission electron microscopy to study the morphology of bacterial adherence. We confirmed that the bacteria associated with catheter-associated urinary tract infections grow in glycocalyx-enclosed microcolonies in a biofilm on the catheter surface. The bacterial populations demonstrated a heterogeneity that was not evident from the culture results, and it was demonstrated that only a small proportion of the microorganisms, including fungi, identified morphologically by scanning or transmission electron microscopy are recovered by routine culture methods. The persistence of the bacterial pathogens in catheter-associated infection, even in the face of antibiotic treatment, may be attributed to their adherent mode of growth in protected biofilms and their production of extensive enveloping anionic glycocalyces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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