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Bacterial Biofilms Form on Catheters in Hours

Formation delayed but not blocked by antibiotics

THURSDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Biofilms of Escherichia coli bacteria can form on urethral catheters within hours, but the process can be delayed for a few days by using antibiotics, according to research published in the November issue of Urology.

Guven Aslan, M.D., from the Dokuz Eylul University School of Medicine in Izmir, Turkey, and colleagues investigated the formation of biofilms on urethral catheters using a modified Robbin's device. They used urine infected with E. coli type O4 either untreated or after treating the catheters with a solution of ciprofloxacin, cefuroxime, gentamicin or trimethoprim. Biofilm formation was assessed by scanning electron microscopy.

The researchers found that biofilms began to form within four to 12 hours and had completely formed within 12 to 24 hours. Antibiotics (particularly cefuroxime) significantly delayed biofilm formation by up to four days, although biofilm formation was complete in nearly all samples by four to seven days.

"Biofilm of E. coli on urethral catheters had completed their maturation at 12 to 24 hours," Aslan and colleagues conclude. "For short-term urethral catheterization, a single dose of antibiotic can delay the development of biofilm for up to four days but eventually cannot prevent it."

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