Hydrogel-coated urinary catheters facilitate pathogen migration

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Of four commonly used urinary catheters, hydrogel-coated catheters are the easiest for uropathogens to migrate across, according to a report published in the January issue of BJU International. The addition of silver to these catheters has little effect on the migratory ability of most bacteria.

Dr. D. J. Stickler and colleagues, from Cardiff University in the UK, tested the ability of nine common uropathogens to migrate across sections of hydrogel-coated latex, hydrogel/silver-coated latex, silicone-coated latex, and all-silicone catheters. Swarming, swimming, and nonmotile species of each bacteria were tested.

Hydrogel-coated latex catheters impeded migration the least, while all-silicone catheters were the most difficult for bacteria to cross. Overall, swarmer cells had the highest migratory ability and nonmotile cells the lowest.

Proteus mirabilis and P. vulgaris swarmer cells migrated successfully across all catheter types, the authors note. In fact, P. mirabilis swarmer cells were actually able to transport the nonmotile cells of other species.

Silver coating attenuated Serratia marcescens' ability to migrate, but did not inhibit migration by other bacteria, the authors note.

The current findings suggest that "inhibitors of swarming could be useful in controlling catheter-associated infection and the complications resulting from the spread of bacterial biofilm over catheters," the investigators conclude.

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