Drugs

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 179–214

Infections Associated with Medical Devices

Pathogenesis, Management and Prophylaxis
  • Christof von Eiff
  • Bernd Jansen
  • Wolfgang Kohnen
  • Karsten Becker
Review Article

Abstract

The insertion or implantation of foreign bodies has become an indispensable part in almost all fields of medicine. However, medical devices are associated with a definitive risk of bacterial and fungal infections. Foreign body-related infections (FBRIs), particularly catheter-related infections, significantly contribute to the increasing problem of nosocomial infections. While a variety of microorganisms may be involved as pathogens, staphylococci account for the majority of FBRIs. Their ability to adhere to materials and to promote formation of a biofilm is the most important feature of their pathogenicity. This biofilm on the surface of colonised foreign bodies is regarded as the biological correlative for the clinical experience with FBRI, that is, that the host defence mechanisms often seem to be unable to handle the infection and, in particular, to eliminate the microorganisms from the infected device. Since antibacterial chemotherapy is also frequently not able to cure these infections despite the use of antibacterials with proven in vitro activity, removal of implanted devices is often inevitable and has been standard clinical practice. However, in specific circumstances, such as infections of implanted medical devices with coagulase-negative staphylococci, a trial of salvage of the device may be justified. All FBRIs should be treated with antibacterials to which the pathogens have been shown to be susceptible. In addition to systemic antibacterial therapy, an intraluminal application of antibacterial agents, referred to as the ‘antibiotic-lock’ technique, should be considered to circumvent the need for removal, especially in patients with implanted long-term catheters.

To reduce the incidence of intravascular catheter-related bloodstream infections, specific guidelines comprising both technological and nontechnological strategies for prevention have been established. Quality assurance, continuing education, choice of the catheter insertion site, hand hygiene and aseptic techniques are aspects of particular interest. Furthermore, all steps in the pathogenesis of biofilm formation may represent targets against which prevention strategies may be directed. Alteration of the foreign body material surface may lead to a change in specific and nonspecific interactions with micro-organisms and, thus, to a reduced microbial adherence. Medical devices made out of a material that would be antiadhesive or at least colonisation resistant would be the most suitable candidates to avoid colonisation and subsequent infection. Another concept for the prevention of FBRIs involves the impregnation of devices with various substances such as antibacterials, antiseptics and/or metals. Finally, further studies are needed to translate the knowledge on the mechanisms of biofilm formation into applicable therapeutic and preventive strategies.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christof von Eiff
    • 1
  • Bernd Jansen
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Kohnen
    • 2
  • Karsten Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Medical MicrobiologyUniversity of Münster Hospital and ClinicsMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Department of Hygiene and Environmental MedicineJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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