Reviewing the progress made to establish the link between bacterial biofilms on device surfaces and hospital acquired infections in patients. The article in infection control today highlights the danger associated with biofilm development on various medical devices including urinary catheters.
In spite of epidemiologic evidence associating biofilms and numerous infectious diseases, the exact mechanisms by which biofilm-associated microorganisms elicit disease remain poorly understood. Currently, these mechanisms are thought to be detachment and embolization of cells or cell aggregates originating from the biofilm, endotoxin production, increased resistance to the host immune system, and creation of an antibiotic-resistant stronghold far more tenacious than planktonic (singleton) bacteria. This heightened protection is thought to arise at least in part from their secretion of a sticky extracellular polymeric matrix that spares the lower layers of bacteria thereby protecting the colony from complete eradication. Such tenacity can lead to chronic and recurring infections.