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Antimicrobial Plastics Used In Medical Devices Prevent Hospital Related Preventions

The market for plastic medical devices is growing despite the global economic slowdown. Although medical devices may differ widely in design and use characteristics, certain factors determine susceptibility of a device to microbial contamination and biofilm formation: duration of use, number and type of organisms to which the device is exposed, flow rate and composition of the medium in or on the device, device material construction and conditioning films on the device.

5-10% of hospital patients acquire hospital related infections in the United States alone. The most common post operative infections are urinary tract infection, surgical site infection and pneumonia. These post operative infections prolong the patientís hospital stay by about 4-5 days, increasing cost of hospitalization. Almost 30% of these infections are considered to be preventable. Many of these infections occur due to formation of biofilms of implanted medical devices. Microbial biofilms develop when microorganisms adhere to a submerged surface and produce extracellular polymers that facilitate adhesion to a surface that may be inert, nonliving material or living tissue. Biofilms can develop on the simplest of medical devices, such as contact lenses, or on more complex items such as prosthetic joints, mechanical heart valves and pacemakers. Hence, the medical device industry is challenged to develop biomaterials with inbu ilt antimicrobial surface properties without deterioration in processability and low surface migration or lower leachable substances, for reducing device-centered infection. But most approaches to date have used drug-eluting compounds or coatings that are eventually consumed. It is much more desirable to have easily processed biomaterials with good wet-strength and long-term efficacy without leachable additives, drugs or biocides. A growing risk of hospital originated infections is causing the industry to increasingly turn to antimicrobial plastics for application in medical devices that can protect against pathogens while remaining cost-effective. The basic requirements for antimicrobials used as either biostabilizers or active ingredients are:

  • Low toxicity to humans, animals, and the environment (during manufacture and under conditions of use)

  • Easy application

  • Compatibility with processing aids, other additives

  • No negative impact on properties or appearance of the plastic article, its storage stability, or useful life

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