An in vitro bacterial surface migration assay underneath sterile barrier material commonly found in a hospital setting

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine what barrier material used in hospital neonatal intensive care units most effectively blocks bacterial migration.

Study Design:

Bacterial migration distance was compared across simple and complex solid media using Escherichia coli, an early and common neonatal gut colonizer, and Staphylococcus aureus, a common skin bacterium, across polystyrene, medical-grade silicone, hydrocolloid dressing and transparent film dressing as barrier materials on complex solid media.

Results:

Bacterial migration was significantly greater on complex versus simple solid media. Bacteria migrated farthest beneath hydrocolloid dressing and transparent film dressing, while migration underneath polystyrene and medical-grade silicone was generally comparable to no barrier.

Conclusions:

Commonly used hydrocolloid dressing and transparent film dressing surprisingly increases bacterial migration, possibly by providing a wet capillary surface for bacteria to attach to or inducing biofilm formation. Using polystyrene or silicone to interface with the site of catheter insertion may best avoid a bacterial wicking phenomenon.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Wallace H Coulter Foundation for financial support. We also thank the Stanford Department of Bioengineering for providing the facilities to conduct this study. This project was generously funded by the Stanford-Coulter Translational Research Grant.

Author information

Correspondence to J D Shih.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Shih, J., Wood, L., Dambkowski, C. et al. An in vitro bacterial surface migration assay underneath sterile barrier material commonly found in a hospital setting. J Perinatol 37, 848–852 (2017) doi:10.1038/jp.2017.28

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