In vitro and in vivo microbial adhesion and growth on argon plasma-treated silicone rubber voice prostheses

E.P.J.M. Everaert, B. van de Belt-Gritter, H.C. van der Mei, H.J. Busscher*, G.J. Verkerke, F. Dijk, H.F. Mahieu, A. Reitsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Patients who undergo a total laryngectomy usually receive a silicone rubber voice prosthesis for voice rehabilitation. Unfortunately, biofilm formation on the esophageal side of voice prostheses limits their lifetime to 3-4 mon on average. The effects of repeated argon plasma treatment of medical grade, hydrophobic silicone rubber on in vitro adhesion and growth of bacteria and yeasts isolated from voice prostheses, as well as in vivo biofilm formation are presented here. In vitro experiments demonstrated that initial microbial adhesion over a 4 h time span to plasma-treated, hydrophilized, silicone rubber was generally less than on original, hydrophobic silicone rubber, both in the absence and presence of a salivary conditioning film on the biomaterial. Growth studies over a time period of 14 d at 37°C in a modified Robbins device, showed that fewer Candida cells adhered on plasma-treated, hydrophilized silicone rubber as compared to on original, hydrophobic silicone rubber. For the in vivo evaluation of biofilm formation on plasma-treated silicone rubber voice prostheses, seven laryngectomized patients received a partly hydrophilized 'Groningen Button' voice prosthesis for a planned evaluation period of 4 wk. After removal of the voice prostheses, the border between the hydrophilized and the original, hydrophobic side of the prostheses was clearly visible. However, biofilm formation was, unexpectedly, less on the original, hydrophobic sides, although the microbial compositions of the biofilms on both sides were not significantly different. Summarizing, this study demonstrates that in vitro microbial adhesion and growth on silicone rubber can be reduced by plasma treatment, but in vivo biofilm formation on silicone rubber voice prostheses is oppositely enhanced by hydrophilizing the silicone rubber surface. Nevertheless, from the results of this study the important conclusion can be drawn that in vivo biofilm formation on voice prostheses is controlled by the hydrophobicity of the biomaterials surface used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

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