Bacterial biofilm formation on indwelling urethral catheters

H. Pelling, Jonathan Nzakizwanayo, S. Milo, E.L. Denham, Wendy Macfarlane, L.J. Bock, J.M. Sutton, Brian Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Urethral catheters are the most commonly deployed medical devices and used to manage a wide range of conditions in both hospital and community care settings. The use of long-term catheterization, where the catheter remains in place for a period >28 days remains common, and the care of these patients is often undermined by the acquisition of infections and formation of biofilms on catheter surfaces. Particular problems arise from colonization with urease-producing species such as Proteus mirabilis, which form unusual crystalline biofilms that encrust catheter surfaces and block urine flow. Encrustation and blockage often lead to a range of serious clinical complications and emergency hospital referrals in long-term catheterized patients. Here we review current understanding of bacterial biofilm formation on urethral catheters, with a focus on crystalline biofilm formation by P. mirabilis, as well as approaches that may be used to control biofilm formation on these devices. Significance and Impact of the Study: Urinary catheters are the most commonly used medical devices in many healthcare systems, but their use predisposes to infection and provide ideal conditions for bacterial biofilm formation. Patients managed by long-term urethral catheterization are particularly vulnerable to biofilm-related infections, with crystalline biofilm formation by urease producing species frequently leading to catheter blockage and other serious clinical complications. This review considers current knowledge regarding biofilm formation on urethral catheters, and possible strategies for their control.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)277-293
    Number of pages17
    JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Pelling, H. , Nzakizwanayo, J. , Milo, S. , Denham, E. L., MacFarlane, W. M., Bock, L. J., Sutton, J. M. and Jones, B. V. (2019), Bacterial biofilm formation on indwelling urethral catheters. Lett Appl Microbiol., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


    • Biofilms
    • Disease processes
    • Diseases
    • resistance
    • Virulence


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