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Biofilm formation on three different endotracheal tubes: a prospective clinical trial

  • Thorarinsdottir, Hulda R.1, 2
  • Kander, Thomas1, 2
  • Holmberg, Anna1
  • Petronis, Sarunas3
  • Klarin, Bengt1, 2
  • 1 Lund University, Lund, Sweden , Lund (Sweden)
  • 2 Skåne University Hospital, Getingevägen 4, Lund, SE-22185, Sweden , Lund (Sweden)
  • 3 Chemistry, Biomaterials and Textiles, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Borås, Sweden , Borås (Sweden)
Published Article
Critical Care
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Jun 29, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13054-020-03092-1
Springer Nature


BackgroundBiofilm formation on endotracheal tubes (ETTs) is an early and frequent event in mechanically ventilated patients. The biofilm is believed to act as a reservoir for infecting microorganisms and thereby contribute to development and relapses of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Once a biofilm has formed on an ETT surface, it is difficult to eradicate. This clinical study aimed to compare biofilm formation on three widely used ETTs with different surface properties and to explore factors potentially predictive of biofilm formation.MethodsWe compared the grade of biofilm formation on ETTs made of uncoated polyvinyl chloride (PVC), silicone-coated PVC, and PVC coated with noble metals after > 24 h of mechanical ventilation in critically ill patients. The comparison was based on scanning electron microscopy of ETT surfaces, biofilm grading, surveillance and biofilm cultures, and occurrence of VAP.ResultsHigh-grade (score ≥ 7) biofilm formation on the ETTs was associated with development of VAP (OR 4.17 [95% CI 1.14–15.3], p = 0.031). Compared to uncoated PVC ETTs, the silicone-coated and noble-metal-coated PVC ETTs were independently associated with reduced high-grade biofilm formation (OR 0.18 [95% CI 0.06–0.59], p = 0.005, and OR 0.34 [95% CI 0.13–0.93], p = 0.036, respectively). No significant difference was observed between silicon-coated ETTs and noble-metal-coated ETTs (OR 0.54 [95% CI 0.17–1.65], p = 0.278). In 60% of the oropharyngeal cultures and 58% of the endotracheal cultures collected at intubation, the same microorganism was found in the ETT biofilm at extubation. In patients who developed VAP, the causative microbe remained in the biofilm in 56% of cases, despite appropriate antibiotic therapy. High-grade biofilm formation on ETTs was not predicted by either colonization with common VAP pathogens in surveillance cultures or duration of invasive ventilation.ConclusionHigh-grade biofilm formation on ETTs was associated with development of VAP. Compared to the uncoated PVC ETTs, the silicone-coated and noble-metal-coated PVC ETTs were independently associated with reduced high-grade biofilm formation. Further research on methods to prevent, monitor, and manage biofilm occurrence is needed.Trial NCT02284438. Retrospectively registered on 21 October 2014.

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