Selected Factors Affecting Staphylococcus aureus Within Silastic Catheters1

Michelle J. Henry-Stanley, Melody M. Shepherd, Carol L. Wells, Donavon J. Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Catheter-related infections are frequent complications in hospitalized patients, and Staphylococcus aureus is a frequent etiologic agent. Little is known about factors that contribute to the growth and viability of S. aureus within contaminated catheters. Materials and Methods: In vitro experiments assessed the ability of S. aureus to adhere to silastic catheter tubing. The effects of heparin, serum, and calcium on initial bacterial adherence were also assessed. Additional experiments quantified the effect of ethanol locking on S. aureus viability within catheter-associated biofilms produced after 48 to 72 h incubation of S. aureus with catheters under conditions of nutrient flow. Scanning electron microscopy visualized the effect of ethanol locking on the morphology of bacterial vegetations adherent to the catheter wall. Results: S. aureus readily adhered (in a dose dependent manner) to silastic catheters incubated with bacteria for 15min, and adherence was not affected by calcium or heparin (even though heparin adhered to the silastic tubing and S. aureus is known to express heparin-binding proteins). S. aureus adherence was inhibited by serum but not albumin. Ethanol locking (5 min to 24 h) of catheters containing mature 48 to 72h S. aureus biofilms resulted in no detectable bacterial viability, although scanning electron microscopy revealed similar bacterial vegetations adherent to control and ethanol-treated catheters. Conclusion: S. aureus adherence to silastic catheters was inhibited by serum, but the active inhibitory component was not albumin. Ethanol locking efficiently sterilized S. aureus contaminated catheters, although nonviable bacterial vegetations remained on the ethanol-treated catheters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-208
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • biofilm
  • catheter

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