European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 271, Issue 11, pp 2877–2883 | Cite as

Detection of bacterial biofilms in different types of chronic otitis media

  • Xingzhi Gu
  • Youlidusi Keyoumu
  • Li Long
  • Hua ZhangEmail author


Biofilms are organized bacterial communities that may be homogeneous or heterogeneous. They play a significant role in the pathogenesis of chronic nasal sinusitis, chronic tonsillitis, cholesteatomas, and device-related infections. Despite this, few studies have been done that examine the presence of bacterial biofilms in tissues from patients with different types of COM or middle ear cholesteatomas. In the current study, we examined the presence of biofilms in surgical tissue specimens from humans with chronic ear infections using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). We hypothesize that bacterial biofilms present differently in patients with different types of chronic otitis media. Our results provide new insights regarding treatment of chronic otitis media. A prospective study was conducted in which middle ear tissues were obtained from 38 patients who underwent tympanoplasty and/or tympanomastoid surgery due to chronic ear infections. A total of 50 middle and mastoid tissue samples were processed for SEM analysis. In addition, 38 middle ear secretion specimens were obtained for routine bacterial culture analysis. Bacterial biofilms were present in 85 % (11 of 13) of patients with middle ear cholesteatoma, 92 % (12/13) of patients with chronic otitis suppurative media (CSOM), and 16 % of patients (2/12) with tympanic membrane perforation (TMP). Fungal biofilms were found in two cases of cholesteatoma. The positive coincidence rate between bacterial biofilms visualized by SEM and bacteria detected by culture was 82 %. Our findings suggest that bacterial biofilms are very common in CSOM and middle ear cholesteatomas. Positive bacterial cultures imply the presence of biofilm formation in CSOM and cholesteatomas. As such, our results provide new insights regarding treatment of chronic otitis media.


Biofilm Chronic otitis media Cholesteatoma Bacterial Fungal Scanning electron microscopy 



This work was supported by grants from Xin Jiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Hospital Program (#20110121).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xingzhi Gu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Youlidusi Keyoumu
    • 2
  • Li Long
    • 2
  • Hua Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of OtorhinolaryngologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical UniversityÜrümqiChina
  2. 2.Department of OtorhinolaryngologyXinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s HospitalÜrümqiChina

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