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Open Access Short Report

Early development of bacterial community diversity in emergently placed urinary catheters

Betsy Foxman1*, Jianfeng Wu2, Emily C Farrer3, Deborah E Goldberg3, John G Younger4 and Chuanwu Xi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA

2 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

3 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan College of Literature, Science & the Arts, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

4 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:332  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-332

Published: 27 June 2012



Approximately 25% of hospitalized patients have a urinary catheter, and catheter associated urinary tract infection is the most common nosocomial infection in the US, causing >1 million cases/year. However, the natural history of the biofilms that rapidly form on urinary catheters and lead to infection is not well described.


We characterized the dynamics of catheter colonization among catheters collected from 3 women and 5 men in a trauma burn unit with different indwelling times using TRFLP and culture. All patients received antibiotic therapy. Results: Colony-forming units increased along the extraluminal catheter surface from the catheter balloon to the urethra, but no trend was apparent for the intraluminal surface. This suggests extraluminal bacteria come from periurethral communities while intraluminal bacteria are introduced via the catheter or already inhabit the urine/bladder. Richness of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) increased over time on the intraluminal surface, but was constant extraluminally.


OTU community composition was explained best by time rather than axial location or surface. Our results suggest that catheter colonization can be very dynamic, and possibly have a predictable succession.

Urinary tract infection; Microbial ecology; Biofilms; Urinary catheter