Biodeterioration of medical-grade silicone rubber used for voice prostheses: a SEM study

T.R. Neu, H.C. Van der Mei, H.J. Busscher*, F. Dijk, G.J. Verkerke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


Silicone voice prostheses used for rehabilitation of speech after total laryngectomy are inserted in an non-sterile habitat. Deposits on explanted Groningen Button voice prostheses revealed a biofilm, due to heavy colonization of the silicone surface by bacteria and yeasts. Furthermore, it was demonstrated by scanning electron microscopy on sectioned expiants that the silicone material was deteriorated by filamentous and vegetative yeast cells. The different expiants showed a variety of sharp-edged, discrete yeast colonies. The yeasts grew just under the silicone surface and up to 700 μm into the silicone material. Finally, nine different types of defects in the silicone material created by the yeasts are described. This deterioration of the silicone by yeasts seems to be the main reason for the failure and the frequent replacement of the prostheses. The mechanisms of silicone deterioration are still hypothetical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-464
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation
  • Silicone rubber
  • Voice prostheses
  • Yeast adhesion


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