Coated catheter cuts back on infections and blood clots

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 8:12 AM EDT
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Catheters are one of the most commonly used medical devices in the country with five million central venous catheters and more than 30 million urinary catheters used each year. They are also the cause of most healthcare-acquired bloodstream infections. Now, a team of researchers are looking to reduce patients' risk.

Chances are if you’ve been hospitalized, you had one of these. Catheters are life-sustaining medical devices that are used to take out or deliver fluids from the body, but ...

“They also have really high rates of these infection and clotting issues,” explained Elizabeth Brisbois, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.

In the United States, there are about 80,000 catheter-related bloodstream infections each year. This results in as many as 28,000 thousand deaths and two billion dollars in increased healthcare costs.

“The infection can also travel inside the body of the patient and cause other diseases,” illustrated Manjyot Kaur Chug, a graduate student at the University of Central Florida.

“Most of the medical devices that are on the market only deal with one of these problems at a time,” Professor Brisbois elaborated.

But not both. That is why researchers at the University of Central Florida are developing a coating material for catheters that can reduce the risk of infections and blood clots. One of the key components is nitric oxide, a compound that is already present in the body.

“Our immune system also produces nitric oxide to kill bacteria. If they mimic the nitric oxide production that our body does, then we can also kill bacteria that might be growing on our catheters,” clarified Brisbois.

The nitric oxide can prevent blood clots from forming on the catheter as well.

“It’s important for the catheter to mimic what is already there in our body,” noted Kaur Chug.

To reduce risk and save lives.

The team says this nitric oxide coating material can eventually also be applied to other medical devices, such as bypass or dialysis machines, devices that have a lot of clotting problems.

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