How Ultrasound Therapy Prevents Bacteria in Catheters

How Ultrasound Therapy Prevents Bacteria in Catheters

December 16, 2020 7:08 pm Published by Comments Off on How Ultrasound Therapy Prevents Bacteria in Catheters

When performed correctly, the installation of a catheter is a safe and sterile procedure. However, through normal daily usage, the sterility of the device can come into question. Biofilm, or a thin layer of bacteria and its products, often develops along the surface of the catheter. The presence of this bacteria is the leading cause of urinary tract infections among catheterized patients. The longer a patient wears a catheter, the more likely it is biofilm will develop. Doctors have explored varied approaches in limiting or preventing the development of biofilm. But, in exploring how ultrasound therapy prevents bacteria in catheters, they may have discovered the safest and most effective ways to maintain good urinary tract health among catheterized patients.

What Is Biofilm?

Biofilm begins with the suspended solids that naturally exist in our urine: minerals and proteins we routinely excrete. As these solids pass through a urinary catheter, they can build up along the walls, forming harmless residue.

Most of us are familiar with the E. coli bacterium. It’s a key component of what we call our gut flora—the colonies of bacteria that live in our digestive systems. Most E. coli passes through our body with no consequence. But E. coli and other bacteria out in the world can infiltrate the catheter, and upon arrival will find the organic components of residual urine to be a fine host for a bacterial community. As bacteria feed on these proteins and minerals, they excrete adhesive compounds that allow them to spread and grow along the catheter walls, forming biofilm: a living material along an inert surface. As the biofilm grows, bacteria can reach the urinary tract, causing dangerous and painful infections, particularly among women and seniors.

How Do We Stop It?

Doctors have experimented with several ways to prevent the growth of biofilm. Antimicrobial agents such as silver have been used to line catheters, discouraging bacteria from growing, but at high cost. Some catheter designs release antimicrobial chemicals or antibiotics into the catheter, but struggle against resistant strains that can take hold. In some cases, doctors simply replace catheters more frequently.

Patients can find the most advantageous approach through ultrasound therapy devices. The Nanovibronix UroShield is a medical device that releases targeted ultrasound waves onto the catheter. These ultrasound waves discourage the growth of biofilm by vibrating bacterial colonies off the catheter walls, breaking up the biofilm and allowing it to be flushed through. A recent double-blind study of how ultrasound therapy prevents bacteria in catheters showed regular use of the UroShield not only drastically reduced the presence of biofilm on catheters, but it also reduced the number of ensuing urinary tract infections. This simple maintenance gives catheterized patients better health outcomes and greater peace of mind. A situation where there’s one fewer thing to worry about is always most welcome.

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This post was written by Elyse

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