Integrated System for Bacterial Detection and Biofilm Treatment on Indwelling Urinary Catheters

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2021 Nov;68(11):3241-3249. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2021.3066995. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


Goal: This work introduces an integrated system incorporated seamlessly with a commercial Foley urinary catheter for bacterial growth sensing and biofilm treatment.

Methods: The system is comprised of flexible, interdigitated electrodes incorporated with a urinary catheter via a 3D-printed insert for impedance sensing and bioelectric effect-based treatment. Each of the functions were wirelessly controlled using a custom application that provides a user-friendly interface for communicating with a custom PCB via Bluetooth to facilitate implementation in practice.

Results: The integrated catheter system maintains the primary functions of indwelling catheters - urine drainage, balloon inflation - while being capable of detecting the growth of Escherichia coli, with an average decrease in impedance of 13.0% after 24 hours, tested in a newly-developed simulated bladder environment. Furthermore, the system enables bioelectric effect-based biofilm reduction, which is performed by applying a low-intensity electric field that increases the susceptibility of biofilm bacteria to antimicrobials, ultimately reducing the required antibiotic dosage.

Conclusion: Overall, this modified catheter system represents a significant step forward for catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) management using device-based approaches, integrating flexible electrodes with an actual Foley catheter along with the control electronics and mobile application.

Significance: CAUTIs, exacerbated by the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, represent a significant challenge as one of the most prevalent healthcare-acquired infections. These infections are driven by the colonization of indwelling catheters by bacterial biofilms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Biofilms
  • Catheters, Indwelling* / adverse effects
  • Urinary Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Urinary Catheters* / adverse effects