Wafer-thin coatings from diamond-like carbon can prevent dangerous biofilms of bacteria from forming on indwelling catheters in the urinary tract. What is more, the coated catheters glide into the ureter with considerably less friction, to the delight of medical staff, and even more so to that of the patients, who experience the procedure as substantially less unpleasant. The new coatings have been developed and tested by scientists in the experimental urology section of the University of Bonn in conjunction with the company NTTF in Rheinbreitbach and the Institute of Thin Film Technology of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. The project partners will present their initial and very promising findings at the MEDICA medical fair in Düsseldorf from 24 to 27 November.
In disorders of the urinary tract indwelling catheters in the lower urinary tract help patients to discharge their urine. However, sometimes the thin tubes are coated after as little as a few days with an infectious crust of bacteria and crystals, with unpleasant consequences: one third of all infections which patients contract in hospitals originate as the result of catheterisation of the lower urinary tract. For the German health care system this means additional costs of 500 million Euros annually.
‘Up to now there has not been any effective way of preventing bacteria from entering the urinary tract via the catheter and thereby triggering urinary tract infection,’ the Bonn researcher Dr. Norbert Laube explains. Several species of bacteria cause a steep increase in the urine pH value by their metabolism. The result is that salts and other substances which are normally found in suspension in the urine are precipitated and form a deposit. After only one week some catheters look like the inside of a coffee machine which has not been de-scaled for years. ‘Anyone can imagine how unpleasant the presence and even more the removal of a catheter which is thus coated with a hard crust must be for the patient,’ Dr. Laube adds. To make matters worse, ‘the crystalline biofilm of bacteria makes many kinds of medication less effective; even when antibiotics are used the infection is then often difficult to combat.’
Dr. Norbert Laube | alfa
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