Biofilms in device-related infections

J Ind Microbiol. 1995 Sep;15(3):141-7. doi: 10.1007/BF01569817.


The use of various medical devices including indwelling vascular catheters, cardiac pacemakers, prosthetic heart valves, chronic ambulatory peritoneal dialysis catheters and prosthetic joints has greatly facilitated the management of serious medical and surgical illness. However, the successful development of synthetic materials and introduction of these artificial devices into various body systems has been accompanied by the ability of microorganism to adhere to these devices in the environment of biofilms that protect them from the activity of antimicrobial agents and from host defense mechanisms. A number of host, biomaterial and microbial factors are unique to the initiation, persistence and treatment failures of device-related infections. Intravascular catheters are the most common devices used in clinical practice and interactions associated with these devices are the leading cause of nosocomial bacteremias. The infections associated with these devices include insertion site infection, septic thrombophlebitis, septicemia, endocarditis and metastatic abscesses. Other important device-related infections include infections of vascular prostheses, intracardiac prostheses, total artificial hearts, indwelling urinary catheters, orthopedic prostheses, endotracheal tubes and extended wear lenses. The diagnosis and management of biofilm-associated infections remain difficult but critical issues. Appropriate antimicrobial therapy is often not effective in eradicating these infections and the removal of the device becomes necessary. Several improved diagnostic and therapeutic modalities have been reported in recent experimental studies. The clinical usefulness of these strategies remains to be determined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / adverse effects
  • Biofilms*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis / adverse effects
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects
  • Contact Lenses, Extended-Wear / adverse effects
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis / adverse effects
  • Heart, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infections / diagnosis
  • Infections / etiology*
  • Infections / therapy
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Joint Prosthesis / adverse effects
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / diagnosis
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / etiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / therapy


  • Biocompatible Materials